"Inspiring others into action by demonstrating the Power of One Woman."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Nina Simons, Femininity in Action

An internationally acclaimed speaker, advocate; author, and leader within the environmental movement, Nina Simons’ calming voice exudes the strong feminine spirit she writes and speaks of. Nina describes being among the sunflowers, bees, butterflies and vegetables and experiencing an awakening to nature while walking through Gabriel Howearth’s garden with her now husband Kenny Ausubel. Nina and Kenny created “Seeds of Change” in 1989 with Gabriel with the mission “to preserve biodiversity and promote sustainable, organic agriculture.”
One year later, seeing a need to bring like-minded people together focused on sustainability, Nina and Kenny once again trail-blazed creating an annual conference which set the foundation for “Bioneers” a term Kenny created, and now a non-profit hosting their 22nd annual conference which “highlights breakthrough solutions for restoring people and planet and inspiring a shift to live on Earth in ways that honor the web of life, each other and future generations.”
What once began as a 250 people conference now hosts 3,000 people from across the globe and transmits videos around the world reaching over 9,000 people. Nina and Kenny left Seeds of Change with the mission of bringing like-minded people together focused on “innovative solutions” for the planet.
Nina’s personal evolution with Bioneers resulted in the creation of “The Women’s Leadership Conference.” Nina saw the desire by women to rise in leadership related to deeply passionate issues such as children’s health and education. The Women’s Leadership Conference aims at connecting women and accentuating the best of our feminine side to nurture and bond with our masculine side to lead and create.
“Moonrise” an anthology of stories of women “leading from the heart,” edited by Nina and Anneke Campbell, was an outgrowth of Nina’s women’s leadership work.
Nina’s soft-spoken manner is warrior spirit in action. Nina’s grace and eloquence combined with her commitment and dedication results in strength, boldness, and change. Nina is a role model for women desiring to make a difference for the planet. Her 24 years of working in sustainability has paired her with almost every environmental leader in the country. The impact of her work is far reaching. She now speaks at United Nations conferences. Nina knows the planet is calling us for assistance; she also knows it will take men and women moving forward together and educating our children on the important issues.
I was moved by Nina’s openness and sincerity in our interview. Though an interview with Nina requires scheduling several weeks in advance due to her speaking schedule, she was completely enthusiastic and present. Nina underscores how appreciative she is seeing women stepping courageously forward; using our voices to speak for the earth. She sees a ripple effect happening from each woman stepping forward and she reiterates, now is the time. Nina knows personally what the Power of One Woman holds to make a difference and she personifies it.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Robyn O'Brien "America's Food Crusader"

Robyn O’Brien described the day that changed her life from full-time mother to national speaker, author, and activist on food. Robyn was introducing solids to her infant daughter and cooked eggs for breakfast; her daughter had a severe allergic reaction to “touching” eggs. The doctor explained to Robyn it was a allergic reaction that “just happened” and that egg allergies were common. This didn’t sell Robyn; she could not walk away from her feelings of ambivalence. Searching for understanding, she researched; and she found stunning information about the American food supply.
She learned that while European nations were issuing caution and prevention related to foods, the United States allowed food to be manufactured and sold without human trials having been conducted to determine their safety or the health risks and health costs related to the use of chemicals, artificial ingredients, and genetically modified foods found in many of our foods today. Foods in the United States are commonly made with either artificial dyes, artificial sweeteners such high fructose corn syrup, hormones or a combinations of these ingredients; these either not used in other countries or these ingredients are labeled so that consumers can make an informed choice. This is taking a toll on our children’s health. Robyn was alarmed to learn these same foods are sold in a more natural version in Europe; thus many of the foods sold here are either banned or were never introduced in Europe. Robyn’s research also shows a correlation between the chemically laden food and common U.S. ailments such ADD, diabetes,obesity, cancers to name a few.
Robyn felt she found answers other parents deserved to know. She felt a new world had opened up and she wanted to share it. She wondered how many other parents were interested in learning many of our children’s allergies could be prevented through proper nutrition. So she consulted her family and the “Allergy Kids Network,” was founded. Now a national educational based non-profit, it serves as a support base for parents seeking solutions and prevention to their children’s allergies. The website www.allergykisd.com is a wonderful resource containing a wealth of knowledge.
From looking for answers to her child’s allergic reaction and not turning away from the facts, Robyn has become a national spokesperson for food and the author of the book, “The Unhealthy Truth: How our food is making us sick and what we can do about it.” While Robyn knows that many of our foods are making us sick; she also knows that eating the right foods can keep us well. Robyn makes the links between our food, our health and the health of the planet. Her TEDX in Austin http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rixyrCNVVGA received a standing ovation.
Robyn has never swayed or backed down from the reality of food facts in the U.S. and when radio shows have canceled because advertisers might pull their advertising if she is on, she knows there is another show waiting. Robyn has opened the door for many families seeking solutions; and has helped with getting stricter standards on food. For more information please visit, www.Robynobrien.com. “While none of us can do
everything, all of us can do something when it comes to protecting the health of our families. And hope is the knowledge that change is possible, even when it seems hard to imagine.” Robyn O’Brien

Friday, June 3, 2011

A modern-day explorer, Milbry Polk makes discoveries about our planet while paving the way for other women.

Milbry Polk is a modern day explorer; mentor and trendsetter for women. At a young age, Milbry decided that she wanted to be an “explorer.” Influenced both by her father who took her family traveling to the Middle East and Europe and by historical figures such as Alexander the Great, she knew she wanted to see more of the world while making a contribution to it. She accomplished what she set out to do and she learned early on that she was in a profession recognized by men for men. I learned from Milbry that exploring doesn’t mean finding new pieces of land: It means making new discoveries about our land our animals, and improving our knowledge of our vast world. As Milbry stated, “Exploring doesn’t just mean conquering or claiming, it means making new discoveries filling in the blank places of knowledge.”
Milbry also used her knowledge and passion for exploring in authoring the book with Mary Tiegreen, “Women of Discovery." Milbry realized women have a major contributing role in exploring our planet so with Lela Hadley she created “Wings World Quest” a non-profit organization supporting and celebrating women explorers. Wings went on to become internationally recognized as a support network for women explorers. Women’s work was now being featured through public lectures, educational programs, a Flag program and fellowships and grants to nearly 100 women worldwide.
Making over 20 expeditions, Milbry has traveled to places most of us will only see in pictures. She has written and contributed to over a dozen books, spends frequent amount of time on the speaking circuit, and has been recognized for her work through numerous awards. Stepping down in 2010 as the Executive Director of Wings, Milbry is focusing her time on writing a new book about exploration. She continues to travel, documenting her experiences in her blog http://milbry.blogspot.com..
Milbry is a mentor; mentoring many women’s work including mine. Milbry has generously offered her time in supporting the success of "Power of One Woman" serving an advisory board member. From our first conversation, I saw that Milbry connects women, science, and women with science. Milbry expressed her strong desire to help the planet through supporting women’s work for the planet. Scroll through the Wings website at: www.wingsworldquest.org and you see women across the globe making new discoveries regarding animals, plants, forests, and oceans, contributing to the future of our survival.
Milbry is a pioneer in the true sense of the word; traversing to new places, taking on new challenges, connecting, supporting, and teaching her wisdom. Milbry Polk to me has the spirit of the great pioneers such as Amelia Earhart.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Laura Turner Seydel, National Eco-Activist

Intelligent, articulate and down to earth – these are what came to mind as I sat with Laura Tuner Seydel – a, Southern-based, National Environmental Activist. Sitting in her Atlanta home, “Eco-Manor,” Laura outlines with vivid description Atlanta’s environmental difficulties. She also describes viable solutions with this same strong energy. Laura educates herself on the issues and takes action including creating many programs and foundations addressing environmental issues. Laura’s interest in the environment comes from her own love of nature, and by her father, Ted Turner’s, modeling. She sits on several of his environmentally focused boards such as chairing the Captain Planet Foundation.
Drinking herbal teas and water; it is clear that taking care of the planet includes taking care of her; Laura has a healthy look to her. She describes a story that is a clincher for her. The “Environmental Working Group” (EWG) asked her, her father, and her son to participate in a generational study. They measured for chemicals in their blood and found different chemicals levels in each of them. In Laura’s body the chemicals found were more related to those found in personal care products and cosmetics such as parabens and phthalates. In her son, who was twelve at the time, the chemicals were more related flame-retardants and in her father, toxins such as lead and asbestos were more common. The findings of this study accelerated Laura’s interest in eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals.
In addition to chairing and sitting on several boards, Laura is busy making speeches. She reads books and studies research findings to stay updated. Her role as an environmental steward also includes educating her three children on issues making this a family affair. She feels strongly on raising our children ready to inherit the earth. Her commitment to the environment carries through in most areas of her life including family purchases; eating habits, driving a hybrid Prius, environmentally-friendly landscaping and yard care; and writing articles. Her website, www.lauraturnerseydel.com., houses an extensive list of environmental resources and educational pieces. And her home, Eco Manor is the first Gold LEED certified residence in the Southeast and has its own website www.ecomanor.com.
I witness Laura treated as a local Atlanta celebrity with a group of people surrounding her; yet there is no fanfare. She appears gracious and courteous to all who greet her. I am inspired by her willingness to look deeply at the issues and to act on them. As she learns the truth on local water Issues, - she creates with her husband, Rutherford, “The Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeepers;” when she learns how air pollution is affecting children, she creates the program, “Mothers and Others for Clean Air”, with a local politician. Though her schedule is evidently full as we meet, she is fully present and calm; moving on to the next interview, soccer game, school project, and fundraising event. Laura knows that with privilege comes responsibility and through her own hard work, and intelligence, she creates opportunities and solutions. Her staunch commitment, determination, and congruent lifestyle come clearly through: she walks her talk. Please visit her website at www.lauraturnerseydel.com to learn more.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Plastic Bags and Feminine Care: Two Very Important Things

To date, I have interviewed 34 women for the “Power of One Woman,” project. And with every interview, my mind and world have continually been expanded by these women’s amazing work for the earth. With every conversation, book, and website studied, I continue to learn incredible facts regarding our health and that of the planet. It is a mind expanding year filled with new truths, discoveries, and inspirations.
Among these many truths I have learned and desire to share with others, I am extremely moved by the facts regarding feminine care and our use of plastic bags. Both impact our health strongly and also have very viable solutions. Women’s conventional pads and tampons contain harmful chemicals such as dioxin, chlorine and pesticides. Both pads and tampons are made of a rayon blend bleached with chlorine, a know carcinogen; the whitening process produces the highly toxic chemical dioxin. According to www.dictionary.com dioxin is “A highly toxic and environmentally persistent compound, C12H4O2Cl4, produced as a byproduct in some manufacturing processes, notably herbicide production and paper bleaching.” According to the “Campaign for Safe Cosmetics,” “even trace levels [of dioxin] are concerning because dioxins are cancer causing agents; can disrupt the hormone system; have been linked to endometriosis; and can affect the body at very low levels. The amount of dioxin in our bodies is already above the “safe” limits.” Whereas, organic tampons are made from unbleached cotton and pads are made from a non-toxic, unbleached natural blend; both are free of dyes and fragrances.
I first learned these truths from interviewing Sheila Hollender, Women’s Health Advocate at Seventh Generation Corporation. Sheila has devoted her time and energy in educating women that chemically invasive and harmful chemicals are going into the most chemically sensitive area of women’s bodies and effects are seen through endometriosis, toxic shock syndrome and links to ovarian cancers (the fifth leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.). Making the switch from conventional to organic feminine care is accessible and as most major grocery chains carry organic pads and tampons; and making this switch has a major impact on women’s health. I think of the line from the children’s movie, “Alpha & Omega,” “Stop the insanity; go organic.”
The second thing is our use of Plastic Bags. When interviewing Dr. Terrie Williams, professor of Biology at UCSC, I learned that over 100,000 marine mammals and birds die annually from ingesting plastic. Animals are mistaking plastic as their prey. Dr. Williams pulled a plastic bag from a beached sperm whale’s intestines where plastic was ruled as the majestic animal’s cause of death. Plastic bags take an estimate of 500-1000 years to decompose. Plastic bags line the sides of highways escaping from moving vehicles such as trash trucks, thus making their way into the rivers and eventually the oceans. On one 10 hour drive I noticed hundreds in not thousands of bags on the roadsides as I traveled through six states. To offset this, many grocery stores are instituting reusable bag programs.
Bringing in our own bags and buying organic feminine care are relatively easy solutions considering the positive effects they have on women’s health and saving animals’ lives. Let’s make the switch! For more information please visit http://www.safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=300 and www.reuseit.com/learn-more

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sandra Steingraber, "Raising Awareness for our Children.through 'Raising Elijah'”

When I first learned her name: “Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D.” biologist, I wondered, “How had I never heard her name and compelling story before?” I feel strongly, “Sandra Steingraber” ought to be a household name. Raised in the Illinois Midwest, Sandra led your typical mid-western life until she got the news: she had cancer as a young college student.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Audrey Peterman, Advocate of our Mountains' Majesties

At age 44, Audrey Peterman, and her husband Frank embarked on a two-month trek across country to witness the beautiful landscapes offered in the United States. With the realization that they had not seen the famous landmarks of their own country, they visited 14 parks including: the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone. While visiting Yellowstone, Audrey became aware there was actually a National Parks “System.” Audrey and Frank were struck by two things: the overwhelming beauty they witnessed; and they were among only a handful of African Americans visiting the Parks. Often they saw few U.S. citizens. Audrey said, “Looking back, I felt as if we were in the ‘National Parks for Foreigners’.” They decided then they would do something to change this.