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the yellow lotus flower kickstarter

It’s been nearly nine months since I last invited you on a crowdfunding adventure, and asked if you would join me in backing life after hate. I only call on my social network to rally behind a campaign two or three times a year, so I usually wait for an initiative that sparks a big inner yes, some clear sign that this is a project, person, or team I feel wholeheartedly called to support in every way I can.

That call unexpectedly came a week ago. I woke up feeling blue that day, and stopped by facebook briefly, which would usually be a mistake in that particular state of mind, but not that day, as it turned out. As I scanned my newsfeed, my friend Aravinda’s post caught my attention. It said:  “Do you have anyone in your life who would appreciate an amazing book for children?” I immediately lit up like a Christmas tree.

Some of you know I love children’s books, and I’m always on the lookout for a new fabulous find. I inherited this passion from my mother who was a great story-teller and loved reading children’s stories. A few months before she died of pancreatic cancer in 2010, I asked her to re-read to me a couple of my favorite childhood books, and I recorded her. She has now been gone eight years, and I am grateful that I can still curl up in bed on a cloudy day and listen to her read these stories.

Click on the picture to watch the Kickstarter video!

But back to this new crowdfunding adventure I am excited to tell you about. That day I was feeling blue, Aravinda’s question and invitation prompted me to hop over to the Kickstarter page for the Yellow Lotus Flower book and sing-along which she was inviting her friends to support.

And it was love at first ‘watch’! After I listened to Jen Myzel’s touching explanation of why she wrote that song, and I watched all these Oakland kids in her classroom sing their little hearts out with her, I was left wishing that sing-along book could land in the hands of every kid who struggles with challenging emotions. And having one such kid within me, I also wanted to hold a copy of that book in my own hands so I too could sing along. Then I started thinking of specific children and parents I know around the country who would likely love that book too, which is when I noticed how alive and uplifted my heart felt and realized: ohhhh, I think I am going to get involved in this campaign.

If you have read about or participated in other campaigns I have backed in the past few years, you know how much I like to involve friends. It’s more fun to make a difference as a community, and experience our collective power by joining our small streams together to make a river. And the most fulfilling part of this form of philanthropic play is to surprise the brave (and usually worn out) project leaders in the last stretch of their campaign with an unexpected inflow of support from people beyond their own social network. When we have done that in the past, we have usually contributed upward of $1,000 together. I love reaching that number. It’s a meaningful and sizable contribution to make to any campaign, and when enough of us show up, it does not actually require much of any of us. As of this morning, the Yellow Lotus Flower Kickstarter raised $9,818 of its $15,000 goal, from 199 backers. It is about to enter its final week, so it’s a really good time to come in and help boost it to the finish line, and hopefully get it to its first stretch goal. I have a thing for honey, and for Winnie the Pooh, and if you read the stretch goals section beneath the Kickstarter video, you will see for yourself why I would love to help Jen and her partner Hillary reach $18,000!  The bigger reason, though, is that this amount would allow them to get the book to all 68 public schools in Oakland. Wouldn’t you love to help make that happen?

So, you are wholeheartedly invited to join me on this new adventure, however much or little you can contribute, and there are many ways to play!

What’s involved?

First, if you haven’t already done so, would you just take five minutes right now to watch the kickstarter video for the Yellow Lotus Flower project, so you can get a feeling for the book and song, and what they are seeking to accomplish, and see if it sparks something for you?

Did you do that?

Please, no cheating and taking a sneak peek below if you haven’t!
Watch the video first :)

So now that you have met Jen and Hillary, heard about dragonflies and frogs, and seen how excited these kids are about this yellow lotus flower rising up from the muck, would you tune in, and see if you might feel drawn to join me in backing this campaign in any or all of the following capacities:

As A Lover of Children’s Books or Sing-Alongs. This just involves getting your own copy of the book, so you can read it when the clouds start to crowd your inner sky, and you’d like to disperse them with a little singing.  But you might also want to have a copy of the book around to read to kids in your life, or to a friend who is having a hard time.

As A Book Pollinator. This is for those of us who can’t help thinking of 1, 2, 3… 10 kids we would love to give this book / song to: our children, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, a friend’s daughter. Or perhaps you are thinking of adults who are great story-tellers: your neighbor who is a children’s therapist, or your kids’ school teacher.

As A Fundraiser. This is for anyone who feels drawn to join me in inviting friends to get this book and back this campaign. If this calls to you, but you are not very comfortable or experienced with asking, I’d happily offer you a little coaching.

As a Community Philanthropist.  This is for those of you who could afford to buy 10, 20, 30 copies to give away in your community. I have a number of friends in different parts of the country who are connected to public schools, after-school programs, homeschooling networks, and would be thrilled to give away this book if someone were to put copies in their hands. So, if you want to help more kids in your (or someone else’s) community learn how to be resilient through dark times, and you have the resources to buy a bunch of books, please go for it. If you don’t have the time, energy or the connections to give them away, just talk to me because I would happily play midwife here. I have friends in New Mexico, New England, Colorado, California, and other places who would love to get this book in the right hands. And, if you are a bigger kind of philanthropist, you could perhaps contribute to the $3,000 needed to get this book to Oakland’s public schools.

I was moved by what Jen Myzel said about why she wrote that Yellow Lotus Flower song:

I wrote this song at a time in my life that I was suffering a lot.  And I actually met a yellow lotus flower on a pond one day. And it helped me realize that we can make these journeys from the murky bottom of the pond all the way to the top and bloom into something more beautiful. I want to help children learn that this is a part of life.

As someone who has suffered a lot from depression and mood swings, both as a kid and a grown up, I know how hard it is sometimes to trust that one can rise up from the murky bottom, so I want to back this campaign to succeed in helping more kids do that. And, children’s books are not just for children, of course. I love that Antoine St-Exupery dedicated the Little Prince to one of his friends with these words:

I ask the indulgence of the children who may read this book for dedicating it to a grown-up. I have a serious reason: he is the best friend I have in the world. I have another reason: this grown-up understands everything, even books about children. I have a third reason: he lives in France where he is hungry and cold. He needs cheering up. If all these reasons are not enough, I will dedicate the book to the child from whom this grown-up grew. All grown-ups were once children – although few of them remember it. And so I correct my dedication: TO LEON WERTH WHEN HE WAS A LITTLE BOY.

All this to say that I am confident that this Yellow Lotus Flower book will be really medicinal for both kids and adults.  Singing with others is a powerful way to uplift the heart.

Will you play?

If you do, please let me know.  As a thank you, I will share with you my list of favorite children’s books (a few of which I doubt you will have heard about before).

So, I now leave you to percolate my friend Aravinda’s question:
“Do you have anyone in your life who would appreciate an amazing book for children?”















If you would like to receive my crowdfunding invitations and updates (or get my latest writings, poems, musings etc.), make sure to sign up for my Sparks of Life newsletter.

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life after hate

Dear friends,

I hope many of you will want to catch the life-affirming crowdfunding wave that is quickly going viral in response to the violent events that unfolded in Charlottesville on August 12th.

Click this photo to access Bill Moyers’ Coverage of Life after Hate

In the last 28 hours, 1646 people have already contributed $ 83,100 to Life after Hate, an organization founded in 2011 by former influential members of the radicalized American far-right to support individuals who want to leave violent extremism behind, and to educate people about racism. Life After Hate is now crowdfunding the $400,000 it had been promised under President Obama but will not receive because the Trump administration decided to cut it out of the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Federal program. I have been a supporter of Life after Hate since the Charleston massacre, and I invite you to join me in backing (and talking to others about) their critically important work and current crowd funding campaign. Please take 10-20-30 minutes to explore their website, learn about who they are and what they do, and subscribe to their updates. Contribute in whatever way you can: give money, write / speak about their work to others, partner with their organization if you are in a position to do that.

There are many creative ways to respond to terrorist acts by white supremacists, many ways to support those most directly and regularly harmed by racism and those best organized to address it, and many ways to keep examining how we personally contribute (with our actions or inactions) to the winds of hatred that plague this country.  I’m talking about the U.S here but it’s happening other places.

Which ways make the best use of your strengths and resources? Which align most with your heart? Which make the biggest difference to what you stand for? If you have already given some deep thoughts about how to engage meaningfully – not just this week after Charlottesville, but this year and the next and the one after — please support others around you to do the same.

If you end up contributing to Life After Hate, do let me know. That would make my day!
If you are supporting other initiatives aiming to help us face and heal our individual and collective shadow,
or to build bridges across divides, or to call forth the best in all of us, I’d love to hear about that too.
I would happily include these projects in my cross-pollinator pouch.

I want to clarify that I don’t have any ties to this organization, and I am only supporting their fundraising efforts out of my deep wish to see their work thrive.  I love to cross-pollinate inspiring / life-affirming work, and a few times a year, like to invest myself in backing a crowd funding campaign that speaks to my heart.


Update #1: September 14, 2017 

I wanted to offer a deep-hearted thank you to those of you responded to the invitation I sent a month ago, and said you checked out Life After Hate and contributed to their campaign, or shared their work with others.  Thank you also to those who said you intended to take a closer look at the website.  I hope you had a chance to do that amidst the whirlwind of challenging news coming our way every day, it seems.  And to everyone else, I know you have your hands already steeped in important work, so I don’t expect you to add more to your plate than whatever feels right to you.

Today, I want to contribute a little stream of good news to your “newsfeed.” As of today, 6291 people have now contributed more than $371K of the $400K which Life After Hate is needing to make up for the Federal grant they lost this year. They are 93% of the way to their goal.  It feels good to know that a number of you joined me in forming this river, and it is still time to join for those who meant to do so but got sidetracked.  The most exciting thing, in my opinion, is that their work and stories are getting the larger public attention they deserve.  And this is one significant way that anyone can contribute to their work…  just spreading and strengthening the awareness of life-affirming ways to engage hatred, even though countering violent extremism is only one piece of a much larger puzzle to be solved.

If you have 10 minutes, and could use a bit of inspiration today, please listen to the Facebook Live video which Life After Hate’s Executive director, Sammy Rangel, recorded after Charlottesville. The video quality is not great but he has some really powerful things to say about the impact of our words and style of engagement on those we condemn and denounce, and invites an approach which he argues from experience is more likely to work.

I have been a huge fan of Sammy R. ever since I watched the 2015 Ted Talk (The Power of Forgiveness) where he got a standing ovation after sharing the heart-breaking story of how he ended up embracing a life of violent hatred which took him to jail for years, and what opened his heart and helped him to become the leader he now is.

Update #2: December 2017

When the campaign ended, it had raised $511.4K of its $400K goal, from 10046 people.

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thumbnail Filiz’ gift zoom
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a birthday wish

Dear friends,

AumatmaI am turning 45 in two days, on Wednesday, March 16,
and here is my birthday wish.

The wise and beautiful Aumatma Shah who co-founded the Karma Clinic in Berkeley, now runs her naturopathic practice out of Oakland, and helps couples have healthy babies without drugs or injections. She is currently raising $10,000 through the new Kiva Zip platform in order to collect data to publish research in medical journals on how natural medicine can support fertility.

Kiva Zip is “a pilot program recently launched by Kiva
to drive innovations in person-to-person lending.
It provides 0% interest loans up to $5,000
for small businesses and entrepreneurs who are
financially excluded and underserved.  These loans are “crowd-funded” by individual lenders.”

Aumatma already raised $5,300 with 30 days to go,
and I would like to help her move a lot closer to (and maybe reach) her $10,000 goal by my birthday.  I just contributed $50 to her campaign, and I am looking for…mmm…say, 45 friends willing to join my Kiva Zip tribe of zero-interest lenders to make a small loan ($25 or more) toward Aumatma’s crowd-lending campaign.  Yes, crowd-lending means you will get your money back (without interests in this case), and then you can lend it again to another inspiring entrepreneur!

Would you like to play,
and be part of the new economy,
and a grassroots banking system?

If so, here are a couple of different ways you could contribute:

The quickest and simplest way:
Go to Aumatma’s Kiva Zip page and make a small loan,
then let me know via email what you contributed,
so I can later let you know what difference we made together!


If you are feeling adventurous, creative, and extra generous, you could auction an hour of your time via email or facebook page to offer your friends something you love to do, and then contribute whatever you receive from the highest bidder to Aumatma’s campaign.

If you do play,
please tell me what you end up doing,
so I can celebrate your contribution on my birthday!

And take a moment to watch Aumatma in action
in the beautiful video on her site’s front page.

With love,

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honor a restorative justice innovator

Let's Honor a RestorativE justice (3)How could we foster racial healing in the United States? How can restorative justice tools and processes help us repair historical harm?

These are some of the questions my friend Sarah Cruse and I will be exploring at the 2015 National Restorative Justice Conference in Florida from May 31st to June 3rd, with 500 others attending from all around the country.

We are going to the conference to listen and learn, and to discover inspiring leaders and initiatives which we would like to introduce to those in our social networks interested in social healing and community building. Some of the trailblazers speaking at the conference include Dominic Barter who developed Restorative Circles, an increasingly popular community-based practice for conflict resolution which initially emerged in gang-controlled shantytown favelas in Brazil. They also include Sujatha Baliga who is holding restorative justice circles with police officers in the Bay Area; and Fania Davis from Oakland who has called for a Truth and Reconciliation Process to address violence against African Americans.  And many others.

We secured support from friends to cover our plane tickets and hotel room; and Sarah did a crowd funding campaign to cover her conference fees.

Now that our personal costs are covered, we are launching a crowd funding campaign to raise $1000 which we will offer — as a gift — to one of the inspiring restorative justice leaders we will meet at the conference.

If, like us, your heart aches about what happens in places like Ferguson, Baltimore, and so many other parts of the country; if you despair about the 1001 ways that racial conflicts and injustices continue to destroy the lives and dreams of so many, please help us back a restorative justice initiative that is modeling how to heal rather than perpetuate harm. We don’t know who this $1,000 gift will benefit yet, but we will let you know before the end of our 14 day fundraiser.  And we invite you to accompany us on this learning journey, and entrust us with the capacity to make this gift.

If you contribute to this Indiegogo campaign on any level, you will be invited to join a facebook group which Sarah and I set up to dialogue with other friends attending the conference, as well as our circle of crowd funders.  You will also be invited to join a conference call which we will be hosting during the second half of June to share what we learned, what inspired us, and who we funded.

As always with crowd funding, every little bit helps. So, if all you can give is $10, we would be honored and grateful to flow it forward to someone doing great work. If you can give $25, $50 or $100, that would make us sing. And if you can give more, we will be whirling with joy, and we promise to put all funds to inspiring use, by supporting someone who is working for greater dignity, fairness, and healthier interconnectedness.

What we want more than anything else is the precious gift of your attention directed toward those who are developing creative solutions.

If you feel drawn to do so,
please back this initiative,

Tesa and Sarah

Would you like to receive more invitations to participate in inspiring crowd funding adventures?  Join Tesa’s tribe of crowd funders.

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terri goes to tibet

Madeleine Bault (1911 - 2009)

Madeleine Bault (1911 – 2009)

My great-grand mother was only 36 when she died… a few days after giving birth to my grand-mother, Madeleine, who was her first child. She died of puerperal fever, an infection which could sometimes affect women in the days following a delivery. Back then, in France, it was still fairly common, and fatal. Heart broken by the loss of the woman he loved, my great-grand father never remarried. He raised his daughter alone, and died 40 years later, a widower. My grand-mother ended up spending her 98 years on earth wishing her birth had not cost her mother’s life, a wish which her grief-stricken father also expressed to her more than once. Being motherless had a big impact on her life, including the way she raised her children. It’s hard to mother others when you have not been mothered yourself. My mother ended up inheriting the wound of ‘motherlessness’ and unfortunately carried it to her grave as well. I wrote this short poem recently about them both.

motherless daughters
never stop grieving the well
where they could not drink.

It perhaps does not always have to be so. We can learn to nourish ourselves, and find mentors and friends who help us develop the qualities and strengths our parents could not embody and model for us. But still, something my mother whispered to me late one night a few days before she died of cancer stayed with me as a deep truth: “On perd beaucoup lorsque l’on perd sa mère” (We lose a lot when we lose our mother).

Terri Nash

Terri Nash

Why am I sharing this story with you? Because one of my favorite teachers, Terri Nash is going to Tibet for 6-weeks as part of the Lotus Health Initiative. She will be training Tibetan women who want to learn midwifery skills to prevent the tragically high maternal death rates in Gargon (Eastern Tibet). I am supporting her crowd funding campaign because I am a big fan of Terri.  She supported me to ‘midwife’ my mother’s passing five years ago. And I wish to live in a world where mothers do not die needlessly. This is also my way of honoring the memory of my great-grand mother, Marie-Louise Faure, who died in Marseilles in March of 1911 because she did not receive the kind of delivery and post-partum care that trained midwives offer. Today, only one in 3,600 live births results in death in Europe and the United States. But in many other parts of the world, giving birth remains one of the most dangerous things a woman can do (e.g. one death per 270 live births in Indonesia). According to some studies, in remote parts of Eastern Tibet today, the odds are 1 in 33.

Would some of you like to join me in supporting Terri to contribute her gifts and her 30-years of experience as a midwife to Tibetan women?  She needs $15,000 to cover the expenses involved in training four midwives over the course of several weeks (half of these funds will cover the cost of using translators).

Tibetan Midwife

Tibetan Midwife

“Imagine giving birth alone at a high altitude in the cold, holding your newborn child in your arms and breaking apart your umbilical cord with a rock or rusty knife. This continues to be the reality of women in eastern Tibet today.”   Here is where you can learn more about Terri’s upcoming trip to Tibet, and what she needs.  And if you feel so moved, please join the 81 of us who have collectively contributed $7679 to date.


If you’d like to get updates about my philanthropic adventures, and receive invitations to join inspiring campaigns, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter.  

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borneo-gogo campaign

When my friend Jane Brunette emailed me from Bali last February to ask if I would help her organize an Indiegogo Campaign to support an indigenous tribe in Eastern Borneo bring hundreds of villagers together to hold a 64-day long conflict resolution ceremony intended to protect their home rainforest from bulldozers, I followed my heart compass and said yes!  Jane and I knew each other well. Our paths first crossed in Bali in the summer of 2011, and from the start, our friendship revolved around our shared love of poetry, meditation, travels… and trees.  When our friend Clare Dakin started an organization called Tree Sisters and put out a call for 1000 founding funders to make a monthly contribution, Jane and I both stepped forward. She and I occasionally talked about starting our own tree initiative in Bali, something small, local and hands-on, a fundraiser perhaps, but nothing spoke to us loud enough to move us into action, until Jane attended a Writers’ conference in Ubud last January.

She published a beautiful post on her Flamingseed blog about her encounter with well-known environmental activist Ruwindrijarto Ambrosius at that conference, and explained how it prompted her to get on a plane to Borneo with him to meet with leaders of the Dayak Benuaq tribe in Muara Tae. There she witnessed the devastation that has happened to the rainforest at the hands of palm oil companies’ bulldozers, but she also received a huge dose of inspiration from her new Dayak friends.  She gave an inspiring 8 minute talk about the origins and purpose of the Indiegogo campaign she decided to launch after returning from Borneo:

Jane turned to me for support with the campaign, because I love crowd funding, but I did not have much experience with organizing one, and neither did she.   We decided we would learn as we go.  And this is how Jane’s friendship with Ruwi and Asuy, and my friendship with her, sparked us all into action, and we later inspired friends in four different continents to come along for the ride.  26 days into our Indiegogo Campaign campaign, we have raised $10,714 from 155 people who have given gifts ranging from $1 to $1000.  More than 50 of them have joined our ambassador team.  We are especially excited that several women who have come forward are from indigenous backgrounds, part of the Dayak tribe in Western Borneo and the Tolaya tribe in Sulawesi.  When she heard about the campaign, Mina Susana Setra wrote Jane a very moving letter about what it was like for her to lose her rainforest (in Western Borneo) as a child.

The campaign for us turned out to be primarily about following our hearts and energy rather than a strategy. We’ve been meeting regularly over skype and phone these last few weeks to tune in with each other and the rest of our team. We enter a space of receptive listening and not knowing together, and notice what questions, issues, emotions or insights show up, individually or collectively… and how that feels in our hearts and bodies. As we connect with what is happening in Muara Tae, we give the energies and feelings that arise space to unwind… rather than rushing into strategic conversations about ‘what to do.’ We seek to talk, write and engage one another from a place of spaciousness and connectedness AND we also do our best to welcome all our experiences and emotions (however challenging or uncomfortable)… to give them the space and time they need to reveal their messages and transform us. Our guiding inquiry for this initiative on behalf of the tribe and trees of the Muara Tae has been “what would love do?”


Lessons Learned Lessons learned

Here are a few things I have been learning from my crowd funding adventures with Jane in Bali, Ruwi in Java, and our growing team of campaign ambassadors around the world.

#1 – It’s not how much money people give to the campaign that makes our day. It’s knowing they made a bit of time to learn about what moves our hearts, and cared enough to offer support in some way that is meaningful and authentic for them… which does not necessarily require money.

#2 – There are many things in the world requiring our respective care and attention, and we can’t all pay close attention to everything. This is why, when someone turns out to feel equally passionate as we do about preserving rain forests and protecting indigenous tribes from paying the price of our comfortable lifestyles… and he or she steps forward to campaign by our side, or actively reflect on the part they play in deforestation… we get over the moon excited.

#3 – My favorite part of witnessing people’s generosity is what they say or write about what inspired them to give. One friend gave $10 and wrote: “what an investment this is…a real investment for my children and grandchildren..let it grow..let it grow.” Another friend wrote: “Thanks so much for sharing about your Indiegogo Campaign. I’m now a modest supporter. You may not remember but in 1980, I went to East Kalimantan to try stop the transnational timber companies from destroying the rainforest and displacing indigenous people. That’s what led me to spend a year and a half traveling around the world to see if it was possible to feed everyone on the planet without destroying it in the process.”  Someone we did not know before the campaign made a gift of $1,000 and wrote this note:

Healing spirits of the rainforest have opened my heart and my eyes to so many beautiful things. They have helped me to reconnect with my passed away brother, forgive betrayal and see far beyond physical existence. The gratitude for all the gifts that I have received and now treasure in my heart cannot be described in words.  I wish all the people involved in this campaign to have a great ceremony. My deepest regards to the tribe, shamans, spirits, supporters and god for the gift of life that we share.

#4 – Receiving gifts from total strangers is a heart-opening experience that keeps affirming my faith in what’s possible. Some of those $1 or $5 gifts from strangers in Canada or Czech Republik make my day every time one comes in.

# 5 – Team and Tuning in are key. Remembering that makes the whole difference between getting over-stretched, stressed, and overwhelmed… or learning to trust that the most transformative thing each of us can do is to follow our life force compass rather than disembodied ‘shoulds’ + support one another to build our capacity to meet what unfolds, on both inner and outer levels.

#6 – Crowd funding is not just democratizing investing and philanthropy by creating collaborative platforms to support each other’s initiatives. On a deeper level, it’s inviting and enabling us to align our attention and resources with our hearts and visions.

#7 – Staying in the moment.  It’s challenging not to get obsessed about the money count.  The mind gets easily impressed by the 30-day timeline of a campaign, and wants to control the outcome.  In a 2011 interview with one of my mentors, Dan Emmons, he said: “As soon as you set up a system or a project in order to ‘make something happen,’ that project will start to require certain steps and actions to fulfill the intended outcome. That necessarily takes you away from staying in present moment awareness, connected to life force, and available to notice, feel and spontaneously act upon what is wanting to happen moment-to-moment. You have moved out of receptive mode where actions organically follow energetic impulses, and you have moved into willful mode when strategic actions require a forceful and depleting output of energy.”  It takes attentiveness to remain open and receptive to what might want to unfold, beside or instead of what we initially envisioned to accomplish.

#8 – Developing meaningful measures for success.  I wish platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo were not so single focused on money as the primary currency and metric of success because we have so many gifts(and types of currencies) to contribute to each other; and in my opinion, our capacity to pay attention to what makes each of us come alive is the most valuable of them all.  When we designed the ‘perks’ sections of our campaign, we did not want to offer ‘things’ like t-shirts or other material incentives.  We wanted to invite people to give from the heart, and we chose to offer rewards like friendship, connection, community, meaningful engagement, lively conversations, the sheer joy of giving etc.  People who visit our Indiegogo page are given opportunities to contribute in numerous ways whether or not they also want to give money.   We made sure there were no barriers to entry.  People could contribute as little as $1 to support our initiative.  Here is what the $1 dollar offered:

Befriend the tribe.  Friendship is priceless, but this small token of caring is a meaningful way to let the Dayak Benuaq tribe in Muara Tae know you support their work as guardians of the rainforest. You’ll receive their deep gratitude, and anyone who helps fund this campaign will be invited to our online celebration gathering in May!

My own measure of success for this campaign is not just whether or not we make our target number (though I’d be thrilled if we did). It’s also whether or not we stayed aligned with our values and our energy, whether we heeded life’s feedback or tried to override it, whether we stayed attuned to our respective piece of the larger puzzle or tried to take on more than that, losing our sanity and balance in the process. Success is in whether people who joined this campaign felt enlivened rather than drained by it, whether some of them were inspired to reflect on their own lifestyles, and felt moved to do even one thing they had not considered before. Success is in whether we generated more connectedness to ourselves, each other, the earth. There is so much to track beyond the amount of dollars raised in this campaign, starting with the relationships that we developed with people in other parts of the world, what we have learned by engaging with each other, and the shifts that have taken place within us. Success is also in whether we stayed open to the twists and turns that life presented instead of resisting them, whether we noticed the impact of what has been growing and blossoming as a result of what we are doing, and how we are doing it.

Update (May 7, 2014).   As it turned out, we met our $15,000 goal on the last day of our campaign!  Below is the announcement I sent when we crossed that threshold:

“It’s the middle of the night right now in Indonesia and Jane will not wake up for a few more hours so this is Tesa in California writing to announce that WE DID IT! We fulfilled Jane and Ruwi’s hope that enough people could come forward to answer their invitation to support a 64-day ceremony intended to heal conflicts in the rainforest of Muara Tae, and strengthen everyone’s relationship to life.  When I say “we did it!” I am talking about the 212 of us who have contributed to this campaign + all our ambassadors and friends in four continents who shared videos, interviews, and updates.

The last few hours have been filled with generous gifts coming in from many different parts of the world… some small, one very big, all equally precious to us. Jane started this campaign asking the question: “What would love do?” And the answer is that love can weave hundreds of caring threads across oceans and continents and create a web of support for a ceremony that is inviting all involved (including us) to reconnect with our deeper values and purpose in protecting life on this planet. Love has also created new connections between many of us, as well as opportunities to become more aware of our impact on each other. And this Indiegogo Campaign is just the beginning of what this growing web of connectedness can make possible. 

The numbers are still climbing ($15,519 as I write this), with 12 more hours to go. Any additional money that comes in now before the official end of the campaign will support the Dayaks of Muara Tae in the challenging task of protecting the rainforest, especially now that the military is siding with palm oil companies and bulldozers on the ground.

I want to acknowledge Jane and Ruwi for following their heart’s call and having the courage to initiate this campaign and take on the huge labor of love involved in holding the space for what emerged, and touching so many hearts. I also want to honor our Indonesian activists-friends on the ground for the hard work they have been doing for years. And again a huge thank you to all of you for showing up with love, money, attention, encouragement, and the willingness to share what is happening with others. If you joined this campaign in the last few hours, you can catch up with what has happened so far by reading the old updates on the Indiegogo Campaign page, and visiting Jane’s Flamingseed blog, and our Guardians of the Forests page on Facebook. You are also all invited to join our Muara Tae ambassadors’ Facebook group. ” 

When the campaign ended at midnight on May 7th, we had received 225 contributions totaling $15,840.


Would you like to get updates about my philanthropic adventures, and receive invitations to join inspiring campaigns?  Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter.

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one dollar and mrs. green’s world

This is a story about community-based philanthropy, and what happens when lots of little streams come together to make a larger river.  I’ll tell this story in two parts. The first was written on February 27th, 2014, two days before the end of my friend Gina’s Kickstarter campaign, when I sent this email below to thirty friends in three continents:

Greetings, dear friends around the world,

A warm hello from the little desert town of Borrego Springs in Southern California.

TWO DAYS AGO, between breakfast and a 10 am meeting with one of my favorite astrologers, I found myself moved to write this facebook update:

“Calling all big-hearted friends, pocket change philanthropists, and grassrootsy social investors! If you have ONE extra dollar in your car, wallet, pocket, or bank account, would you consider using it to back my friend Gina Murphy’s Kickstarter campaign in the next three days? Here is why I’m feeling inspired to ask this morning:

After attending an Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream symposium in 2008, Gina, who is a former corporate executive, experienced a big wake up call and started Mrs Green’s World Radio Network to promote environmental literacy and awareness. Since then, this fiery 63 year old dynamo has been been producing weekly podcasts about all kinds of topics from the impact of fracking to food politics. As of this morning, she’s $292 away from meeting her $25,000 Kickstarter goal to fund her next series of podcasts, with still four days to go. I am pretty confident she’s going to reach her goal today or tomorrow, BUT I am also hoping she could also receive the $5,000 bonus donation that was promised to her by a private foundation if her campaign gets backed by a total of 500 people. And that would be a bit of a stretch, because she would need another 146 generous souls (besides the 354 fans who already contributed) to come forward by Friday.  One dollar is really all they would need to give (more is obviously welcome!), and I’m guessing there are at least 146 people amongst my friends and their friends with a bit of change to spare to support what she’s up to, so I am just putting this out there to see what happens! Let me know if you decide to play!”


A whole bunch of friends messaged me to let me know they had just contributed all kinds of amounts (like $1, $2, $5, $10, and one of them, $100). The Kickstarter reached its $25,000 goal a couple of hours later. My friend Joanna who interviewed me for her Future Primitives radio show last July sent me an email that made my day. It said:

“I want to tell you how much Joy it gave me to click the button on kickstarter for Mrs Green’s campaign. I waited for the number to be $24,931 and then I put in my donations and gasped at the thrill of seeing the numbers change to $25,001 making it the drop of water that made the waterfall possible. I love been a delicious drop of elixir in this growing awareness that we are together, linked in love and compassion for self and other self. Giving and receiving, breathing in, breathing out…
In gratitude,


More messages came into my inbox. The Kickstarter reached $26,600, and the numbers of backers increased to 440 (from 350 on TUESDAY), just 60 backers away from 500 donors, and the $5,000 bonus grant, with 68 hours to go.

AND NOW, the campaign has been backed by 476 backers, which means that there are only 24 more backers needed for Gina’s radio show to get to 500 supporters, and that $5000 bonus grant. There are still 45 hours to go, so it’s looking pretty good! I’m feeling moved to send this email to you and 30 other of my friends around the world to ask if you happen to have one dollar in your possession that’s aching to make a difference, and be part of supporting Mrs Green’s Radio podcast to get that $5,000 bonus grant!

IF YOU WANT TO PLAY, please go to my facebook page, and click on the link on the one before last post. Or you can skip facebook and contribute directly to Gina’s Kickstarter Campaign! No pressure at all. This is only if you feel enlivened by the possibility of being one of the little streams that joins in this bigger river.

Just to be transparent, I have personally contributed $25 to this Kickstarter campaign.

And I want to add that the visionaries and change makers I support with my time and resources are those who are following their inner compass, and grounding their outer work in body meditation or tuning in / somatic practices that keep them aligned with life force and what makes them come alive. Gina Murphy is part of a women’s tuning in circle I have been hosting every week since last November. 

With a hug,


And now, here is part two of the story. What happened after I sent this letter above? Facebook messages from different friends came in saying one version or another of “I am in!” One of them came from my friend Jane in Bali. Another came from my friend Jildaz in France. Then one of my favorite messages came from my friend Cansu in Turkey, via email. It said: “I am #499 of the backers for our friend’s project. I just pledged $25 from Istanbul :) I hope she gets 500. One more to go ;)”

At that point, I was sitting in my hotel room in Borrego Springs with my partner, Soren, impatiently refreshing the browser ever few minutes, and waiting for the 500th backer to show up… any second! But nothing happened for over an hour. It was getting close to midnight. I contemplated the possibility of calling someone I knew and begging them to contribute a dollar to that campaign so I could go to sleep. But that felt like cheating! So, I waited. Eventually, I refreshed the browser, and lo and behold, we had reached 500. A few minutes later, I got this email from my friend Allison in Larkspur, California. It said: “I am honored to be the 500th contributor.” Then a few minutes later, she sent another email titled 503. It said: “Looks like there were a number of us contributing at the same moment. I clicked on when it was at 499 and was so surprised and happy that it had progressed like that! So I thought I was #500… I was just so happy to participate.”

The cherry on the cake came the next day, when I got a facebook message from my friend Eve in Santa Barbara. All it said was: #526!

The campaign ended on Saturday March 1st, with 527 backers, and nearly $30,000. And here is the last thing I want to say about all that. I hesitated for a long time before I posted that first facebook message to invite people to play. It will sound silly with the hindsight, but I was afraid to put a call out and face the possibility that no one might respond. And then I reflected on all the times in my life that I did not bring something forward because of some fear or another. So I decided to go ahead and take the risk. And I’m so happy I did.

Are you interested in out-of-the-box philanthropic adventures? Sign up for updates and I’ll send you more inspiring stories + invitations to play a couple of times a month. 

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