If Women Ran the World, Sh*t Would Get Done now a Spirited Woman Top 12 Holiday Book Pick!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reflections to the Letter: An Interview with Jessey Ina-Lee and Diana Martens

Jessey Ina-Lee has earned various degrees and certificates which include interior design, art, music and even a master’s degree in psychology. She has had a number of different professions and a lot of jobs, including teacher, real estate sales/appraisal, secretary, interior and graphic designer, and homemaker. Oh, yes, and there’s the very important jobs of being daughter, sister, caretaker, companion, partner and friend. She has also been devoted to animal rescue work, other social causes, writing, art, music and dance.

Diana Martens grew up in Charleston, West Virginia and was immersed in art from the beginning with her father, Robert E. Martens, an architect and sculptor, and her mother, Eloise Guthrie Martens, a musician and composer. Shortly after graduating from college, she began “drawing” her unusual style on large acrylic spheres that were made to be used as covers for outdoor lighting. Loving the shape, and experimenting with many sizes of spheres, she found the clear, solid acrylic spheres to be the perfect “canvas” for her work.

Soon after Diana moved to Connecticut in 1994, she began drawing her unique alphabet which is now part of the book, Reflections to the Letter, which is a collaborative work with Jessey. The artwork from the book has been shown in a number of select galleries in Connecticut and West Virginia. It’s a beautiful and inspirational book, and I was really excited to talk to Diana and Jessey about it.

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us more your book, Reflections to the Letter.

Jessey Ina-Lee: This is the description we wrote for the cover of the book, and I hope it doesn't sound like bragging, but I think it's true. "Reflections to the Letter is a beautiful, thought-provoking book with stunning full-color illustrations of each letter of the alphabet. The unusual art with its interesting shapes and pulsating, vibrant color offers an adventure into the imagination. Each letter is represented by dramatic art accompanied by a short essay. From introspective reflections on childhood experiences to interesting observations from the vantage point of a back-yard lawn chair, each piece offers an unusual perspective. This book is a thought-provoking look at life that will make you go hmm....... "

Diana Martens: Reflections to the Letter is the culmination of many incarnations of our combined art work. The first one was my black and white letters with very simple, well wishing words to go with each letter. Each evolution of our book was a step toward the finished book you see today. The phrase that speaks most about our process is that we have ended up with a book where “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. It grew, it flowered, and it was a wonderful process!

Shelly Rachanow: The art inside your book is breathtaking. What made you start drawing the alphabet?

Diana Martens: I have always loved black and white pen and ink. Over the years I developed a distinct style of showing motion and movement that seems to be stopped at a given moment. A good friend had been watching my work and said. “Diana, do you think you could draw the letters of the alphabet in your style?” So the project began!

The more I worked on the letters, the more fascinated I became with the alphabet itself. It is amazing to me that only twenty six letters are the basis for our language .The letters of the alphabet tell stories, communicate thoughts, feeling, ideas, concerns, hopes and dreams. I wanted my drawing of the letters to be a tribute to their role in our lives. I read books about the history of the alphabet and my awe of these 26 letters continues to this day. It is amazing!

Shelly Rachanow: What inspired you and Jessey to collaborate?

Diana Martens: I had just finished putting border designs around each letter of my alphabet. These borders finished and framed the artwork and I was excited! I proudly showed them to my artist friend Jessey. She thought they were amazing and quickly asked if it would be alright with me for her to scan one of my letters in her computer and “see what would happen” when she added color to it. I said, “Sure. Why not.”

Neither of us knew, at that point, how many hours of work this suggestion would entail. I certainly had no idea or expectation of the results.

I will never forget opening the first file of the letter Jessey had colored. I was blown away! It was absolutely beautiful! It changed my work so dramatically that it took my breath away! And my work was still there. I loved it!

And so the work continued.

Jessey Ina-Lee: When I saw Diana's pen and ink drawings, I asked her if I could color them. I have a graphics background and in my mind's eye, I could see them in full color. I was very excited about the possibility of working on the letters. Diana agreed to let me do it and I spent many, many hours scanning and coloring the artwork. The computer sees each white space as a separate object, so I had to color every tiny space individually. It took months to finish the letters. But each one was so beautiful, it kept me going!

After that, Diana and I worked on putting together a book. Since she had originally done the drawings for a friend's child, we were thinking a children's book, but somehow that just didn't work. Then I got the idea of using some of my writing with the letters and making an inspirational book for adults. Diana liked the idea so I started working on our alphabet book for adults. The result was Reflections to the Letter.

Shelly Rachanow: The messages next to each letter are really inspiring. Give us a small sample of one of your favorites.

Jessey Ina-Lee: To me, the writings are like when you look at something and then tilt you head a little bit to the right or left to see a slightly different angle. That's how I see things - from a slightly different view - and that's what the writings are about – how I see the world. One of my favorites is the letter R - Realizations. It’s a slightly different view of some very familiar sights. An audio reading of that piece can be found by clicking on the Reflections Sound Clip at: http://womonswork.com/page15.php.

Diana Martens: The beauty of the vignettes that Jessey has written to go with each letter is that depending on what is going on in my life, different letters are my favorites.

My all time favorite letter is the letter B and it is also my favorite message. What Jessey says about “Brilliance” is a humbling and inspiring message. The more I know - the more there seems to be for me to know! (And, yes, the word is misspelled on its page – it was a test to see if all the brilliant people were paying attention!)

Shelly Rachanow: This book was definitely a labor of love for you, and I’m sure it was an amazing feeling when you finished it (which I totally understand myself as an author). What words of wisdom do you have for other people who are currently pursuing a dream?

Diana Martens: My advice to anyone pursuing a dream is to not limit the scope of your dream by the distance you can see right now. Don’t be afraid to let the dream grow and evolve as you move toward it. Remember how I thought I was “finished” when I completed the borders of each letter. This book would not have happened if I had let it stop there! And now the book is a reality and we’ve even been featured in a magazine! How exciting is that? See our write-up at http://www.womonswork.com/page20.php - link to Stylus Magazine.

Jessey Ina-Lee: My advice to anyone is just to work on what you love and in a way that will keep you in love with your work. Other than the graphic arts jobs, I’ve always had jobs unrelated to my creative work because I didn’t want to mix the two. So, how I make a living and what I do are not necessarily the same thing. I don’t want to create according to someone else’s specifications. I want the freedom to create what I choose when I choose. I work on many projects at once and love bouncing back and forth between them. Sometimes, I put a project aside for years and then come back to it with a fresh approach.

For me, what matters is the process. I love the process of creating. I’ve done books and art and videos and plays and jewelry – I can’t even remember all of my creative pursuits. But they’ve all been works of love, and they fill me with joy!

Shelly Rachanow: And last, the 'If Women Ran the World Blog' question for everyone - What would you do if you ran the world?

Diana Martens: If I ran the world, I would make food and shelter for everyone a priority.

Jessey Ina-Lee: I would bring back good old-fashioned manners. Judith Martin (Miss Manners) is one of my favorite authors and I love her book, MISS MANNERS RESCUES CIVILIZATION in which she “calls on etiquette to champion the quest for civil decency.” Bringing back common courtesy and consideration of others would go a long way toward solving world problems.

To contact Jessey or to learn more about her work, visit http://www.womonswork.com/ or email jesseyina-lee@sbcglobal.net.

To contact Diana, email dianamartens402@aol.com, or connect with her on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

International Fund for Educational Development: An Interview with Patricia Sullivan

Patricia Sullivan is a C.P.A. and formerly was employed as a Chief Financial Officer. She dedicates herself as a volunteer for International Fund for Educational Development (IFED), and personally identifies the projects, organizations and individuals with whom the organization partners.

She is a foreign professor at Anhui University of Finance and Economics in Bengbu, Anhui Province, China. She teaches International Business, Financial Reporting Standards and Ethics to C.P.A. candidates and develops training programs for the Accounting Department. She serves as a consultant to the Bengbu City government for Economic Development and mentors the student leaders of the Dragon Lake Keepers environmental awareness organization.

I first met Pat when I was writing my second book, What Would You Do If YOU Ran the World?, and I’m as inspired by her now as I was three years ago. I was so excited to talk with her about everything she and IFED have been doing since then.

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us more about the International Fund for Economic Development (IFED).

Patricia Sullivan: IFED’s mission statement is to make a better world, one village at a time. Our goals are to improve peoples’ lives and environment by being global, yet acting locally.

“IF Education, all things are possible.”

We believe that education, training and helping individuals, communities and entire cities to maximize and realize their potential produces economic benefit for everyone.

We do this by “tossing pebbles and watching ripples form.” It only takes a little effort to start a movement that can take on a life of its own.

Much credit for our success is attributable to our donors and the IFED Board of Directors, which is comprised of talented, enthusiastic and generous members from around the world. Our Board members contribute their time, energy and financial support to expanding our training programs and environmental publications. Our members travel to support and review projects, interview scholarship candidates and deliver supplies. As volunteers, their commitment enables us to make a significant impact in the world with minimal overhead costs.

Nadeen Green, our Director of Education, is also the author of our two environmental publications – Let There Be Dragons and The Ballad of Bengbu. Our Treasurer, Ned Cone, has traveled to China to assist in the candidate selection process for our scholarship candidates. Will Shipley, Director of Marketing and Promotions, has been instrumental in our South America projects, along with Vanenka Mosquiera, our Peruvian Project manager. Rodrigo Tobar de la Fuente is our web site designer and the illustrator of both of our environmental publications. Much enthusiasm has been generated by his beautiful, creative efforts in the illustration of our environmental publications. In China, Xue Xioaoming manages our projects throughout the country, identifying educational and humanitarian needs in Anhui Province as well as contributing supplies and his linguistic skills to the medical relief effort in Sichuan Province after the 2008 earthquake.

As representatives for IFED, we try to lead by our example and motivate the young people around us to expand their imaginations and see more possibilities. We inspire them to reach beyond their comfort zones and aspire to greater goals and achievements. We recognize the cultural differences in each of the countries where we work and try to build “friendship bridges” and act as goodwill ambassadors for America.

Shelly Rachanow: What inspired you to start IFED?

Patricia Sullivan: My first grade teacher, Sister Patricia Rodemann, taught us more than the alphabet and phonics. She taught us appreciation for what we have, compassion for those who have less and that we have a social responsibility to “feed the children” who are starving in other countries of the world.

I attribute her early influence with my “attitude of gratitude,” commitment to improve the lives of those less fortunate, and desire to live my life “on purpose” – aware of the small things around me that I can immediately impact. We believe in the Confucius saying, “If you give a man a fish he will eat for a day, if you teach a man to fish he will eat for a lifetime.”

Shelly Rachanow: Where are some of the places IFED has made an impact?

Patricia Sullivan: IFED projects can be broken down into three categories: Economic Development, Education (Environmental and Academic) and Humanitarian.

Once a community is identified, the need established and the infrastructure and support network is in place to make a project sustainable, we work with the local government and community leaders to determine what they believe to be the opportunities and what works and fits within their cultural framework.

It is imperative that they have access to raw materials (wood, clay, fiber, and seed) which can be cultivated, given access to tools, to create products for resale. We typically partner with other organizations that have a management presence and can be onsite to support the process.

The key to the success of our programs is sustainability…the programs grow and prosper beyond the time that we are directly involved. This can be accomplished with proper resourcing, education and training of the community leaders.

We encourage the preservation of the cultures and share an appreciation for the diversity of peoples on our planet.

Some of our projects include:

  1. Computers, a computer training centers and workshops in the over 22 communities in the Northern Andes of Peru
  2. Sewing coops for adults and youth, equipped with foot-powered sewing machines, fabric and supplies in the Amazon region of Peru
  3. A ceramics kiln utilizing locally accessible material for pottery clay
  4. Roof for a school in the Chachapoyan region of the Northern Andes to keep the snow, rain and wind out of the classrooms
  5. Bookcases for the schools to protect the limited supply of library books safe, dry, and protected from rodents
  6. Sponsorship of programs for the CCC library, to include carpentry workshops, reading and environmental programs and veterinarian access for pet spaying and neutering
  7. Cookware, dishes and eating utensils furnished to a community of 90 persons where sanitation and access to clean potable water was creating disease and infections
  1. Dragon Lake Keepers environmental awareness organization that teaches in the elementary and high school
  2. Economic Development project currently being developed and coordinated with the Bengbu city government to introduce Dragon Boat racing, educate existing businesses on opportunities to market internationally and spur entrepreneurial ventures to support tourism in the area.
  3. Fuyang Orphanage in Anhui Province was in a dire situation, without basic sustenance or hygienic necessities, placing the 200 plus children at risk. Our involvement, at the government’s request, created a media urgency that enabled the facility to attain the necessary funding for operations.
  4. Sichuan Earthquake support was provided by our Dragon Lake Keepers members collected funds and gathered the required medical and food supplies for delivery directly to the affected area of the country. Our China Project Manager, Xue Xiaoming, hand delivered these supplies and worked with the International medical team – translating for the medical staff and communicating with the families during this very stressful time.

In 2010 we identified an organization that we are working with to develop and expand their current projects and objectives – to include a nutritional program, computer training and teaching cooking and gardening skills. The Cambodia Children’s Painting Project (CCPP) http://www.letuscreatecambodia.org/ is located in Sihanoukville, in the south of the country.

Their children struggle daily with uncaring or abusive parents, living in extremely impoverished households, lacking regular access to food, clean drinking water and medical care. These children come from the beaches in the local area, collecting cans and bottles for a meager return or selling bracelets and such to tourists for money. Their objective is to provide these vulnerable children with the opportunity to develop their imagination and skills through artistic expression, and providing them a safe place to play, learn and dream.

Their organizational mission, like IFED’s, is to provide future opportunities through education.

United States of America:
  1. A senior citizen computer training facility was set up at the Robert D. Fowler YMCA in Norcross, Georgia. 15 computers donated to IFED were placed to fill the objective of enabling seniors to connect with loved ones geographically separated but accessible via the internet through email.
  2. A student training facility was established at the A. Worley Brown Boys & Girls Club facility in Norcross, Georgia. The 15 donated computers are available to children and teens in the community who attend the after-school and summer programs. The mission of this program is to empower members to become caring, productive adults and to provide a positive place, productive activities and the guidance of caring adults.
  3. Five computers were provided to the S.A.F.E. House in Blairsville, Georgia. This facility provides Support in Abusive Family Emergencies. The computers enable the women to search for work and housing options and assist the resident children with support for homework and their continued education.
  4. We have secured college scholarships from Young Harris College, in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia, for International students with limited financial resources.
  5. We coordinate with local colleges and universities to provide guest speakers and present cultural programs, creating a forum for open dialogue with our Global Friendship Ambassadors, scholarship students and board members and esteemed donors.
Shelly Rachanow: How can people help or get involved with IFED?

Patricia Sullivan: International Fund for Economic Development, Inc. (IFED) is a 501(c)(3) organization. Tax deductible donations can be made directly to IFED at PO Box 668, Young Harris, Georgia 30582 or through Network for Good at http://www.networkforgood.org/ - keyword IFED.

We invite individuals to “sponsor”, through a specific and targeted donation, tools or items that will be used in one of our existing projects – computers, language software, food processors, pressure cookers, sewing fabric, school supplies, hygiene and medical products and small stuffed animals (many children will, otherwise, never have a toy).

Shelly Rachanow: What’s one thing you want people to realize when it comes to making a difference?

Patricia Sullivan: You CAN make a difference.

It seems impossible, when you are focused on the day to day of work, family and other responsibilities, to think about how you can make a difference in the “global village”, beyond your own world. “Random acts of kindness” take little time or effort and their impact can create “ripples of change.” Sometimes the smile you give can change one person’s world....and we all smile in the same language!

I believe that we have the power within us to positively influence individuals who we encounter each day, as well as others in our “circle,” and that human kindness is infectious. Imagine a movement where everyone treated others with respect, appreciation and as if they are significant in their lives.

I want people to know and appreciate that we are surrounded by inspiration. You can choose to focus on the positive, surround yourself with people who are optimistic and motivating and proactively seek solutions which will enable you to understand that “all things are possible.”

Charity and compassion begin at home...and as a parent, you can help children to learn social responsibility and respect for others. Simple lessons – canned goods for the local food pantry, toys for tots, providing a gift for a less fortunate individual featured on the holiday tree at the local department store, a letter or CARE package to a soldier, or spare change to one of the many organizations who do so much good in our world - the Salvation Army, the Lion’s, March of Dimes, Shriner’s Hospital or the Firefighters Boot Campaign. You can volunteer a day to an organization planting trees for the environment, collecting or raising money for medical treatment or building homes.

Children learn what they live...and the example we give as parents will resonate with them all their lives. They learn compassion from the adults in their lives, their parents and their teachers.

Getting involved in any way – small or large – provides a deep sense of satisfaction for the giver and appreciation for the receiver.

Shelly Rachanow: And last, the 'If Women Ran the World Blog' question for everyone - What would you do if you ran the world?

Patricia Sullivan: The first thing I would do is educate ALL people in the developing countries about the world we live in!

This could be initiated by producing videos and educational documentaries to be shared in every school at every grade level, that teaches awareness of the global village where we live. The purpose would be to evoke responsibility for those less fortunate and encourages interaction with residents in every country around the globe. On television, for the general audience, I would produce a series of reality shows that are “Real Survivors” - with education of all facets of each individual location including, but not limited to: geography, cultural appreciation, food production, resource consumption, access to education, medical care and clean water, cost of living and household income, war index and poverty ranking.

This would be beneficial to the majority of the developed world who do not travel to developing and undeveloped countries to learn, understand and appreciate the commonalities and the differences created by the “luck of the draw” - where you were born and into what family and environment. People don’t choose poverty…but it can be insurmountable when “survival” is your primary goal.

I believe that the result of these educational efforts would be awareness, open-mindedness, and the beginning of an appreciation and compassion for those people we do not know. We would become a less “me-centric” nation and our focus would shift to a global understanding of the population in our entire world. We would know the faces of poverty and the circumstances beyond our current comprehension.

Next, I would work with global leaders to eliminate poverty, through the empowerment of individuals, development and implementation of working capital and micro enterprise lending programs to encourage entrepreneurial ventures. The world leaders would exert influence to eliminate the injustice, theft of resources and human rights violations that plague undeveloped nations. This plan will be more extensive….but with the support of the majority of the people in the developing world, it should have the momentum to move beyond the self-interest of political parties and elected officials...

Imagine a world where starvation, fear of reprisal and religious fanaticism were mere memories and “Human Kindness” was the one, true belief…a world where goodness and consideration prevailed… and ignorance and intolerance were replaced by compassion and enthusiasm for our differences and our uniqueness. “Paying it forward” would continue as a global movement and impact all walks of life – from the financially secure to the poverty stricken.

To learn more about IFED, or to contact Pat visit:





Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Shop As You Give: An Interview with Joanne Leone

Joanne Leone is a person of many talents and abilities. She received her BA in Communications and Creative Writing from Chapman University, as well as AAs in Computer Information Management, Office Information Services, and Business Management from Saddleback College.

In the past, Joanne started the first Women’s Committee and was President for several years for McHenry County, Illinois. Joanne was also on, and Chairman for two years, of the McHenry County ‘708’ Tax Board Committee, in charge of distribution of the 708 taxes to nonprofits in McHenry County.

Joanne is also a writer, professional speaker and Master Prosperity Teacher. Her first book, Life is A. B.L.T. (balance, love, trust), has helped many seekers find truth. Recently, Joanne has been using her wonderful gifts and talents to help a great organization called Shop As You Give help nonprofits.

Shelly Rachanow: Tell us more about Shop As You Give.

Joanne Leone: Shop As You Give was a 'divine' idea of my brother's. He is really the entrepreneur's entrepreneur for certain. When he was young and in college he purchased old clunker cars and rented them out to other students for their dates. It probably had the first rental car idea--who knows! He's also had other businesses, the latest of which was the largest barter business in the United States. He was known as the Barter King! The other two partners have been in the computer technology and investment business for many years and bring many talents into the business. I bring my communication, shopping, computer and people skills.

The idea behind Shop As You Give was to 'give back' to people, mainly assist nonprofits in making money without doing any extra work on their part.

The site http://www.shopasyougive.com/ is geared to bring in shoppers in 2 ways. First, a nonprofit who is an affiliate can have a link from their web site to their own specialized store. In this instance, the nonprofit is in a position to even choose any category of product they do not wish to have in their linked store. And, when their supporters check-out, a percentage of the monies goes directly to that particular nonprofit. If a supporter of that nonprofit goes to our store directly, they choose their particular nonprofit from the list of nonprofits at check-out. It is so easy.

Another help to the nonprofits is that we send out two special promo emails to them weekly, for them to forward to their supporters, encouraging their supporters to shop, as well as highlighting different categories of products available. It is entirely up to them if they send one or two of these out a week.

Any person can shop at http://www.shopasyougive.com/ to find fabulous products. They can choose to have a portion of the sales go to a nonprofit or not.

Shelly Rachanow: So many non profits are struggling these days. How can Shop As You Give help?

Joanne Leone: Shop As You Give gives the nonprofits a full 30% of the gross sales, and this amount is paid every month, when the monthly amount accrues to $25 or more. If not, the amount is carried over to the next month. It is more helpful than only getting paid once a year. Also, all the nonprofit has to do is spend about 15 minutes to get the logo link set up, after they sign-up on line. One of our associates helps with this easy process. After that, all the work is done by us:  sending them weekly specials, follow-up, customer service, etc. There is nothing else for them to do but collect the money.

Shelly Rachanow: What makes Shop As You Give different from other programs like it?

Joanne Leone: As mentioned, each nonprofit who signs up to be an affiliate receives a full 30% of the gross profits from what their supporters purchase. This amount is an unheard of amount in the industry; it is usually only about 5%. We are able to do this by being choosy with which vendors we choose, picking fabulous products (including eco and American made), and keeping our prices at or below other on-line stores. It takes a lot of work, but is worth it! Also we have an Advisory Board, made up of nonprofit people, who have guided us in what they believe nonprofits want in their stores.

Shelly Rachanow: How can people or nonprofits who want to get involved do so?

Joanne Leone: If someone would like to join all they have to do is go the home page of http://www.shopasyougive.com/. At the top of the page they will see the "nonprofit resources" category. All they have to do is fill out an Enrollment Form. At the bottom of the form, they can use me, Joanne Leone as the IFA reference, and #89 as my IFA number. After that, all they have to do is go to the "Setting up your Store" category. There is a link to the IT people and directions of 'how and where' to send their logo.

Also, if there are product categories, (for example, fragrances) they do not wish to carry in their store, they can send these along as well and they will be deleted from their nonprofit store. Listed under the 'nonprofit resources' is also a W-9 form to forward so they can legally get paid and a whole list of marketing materials. For instance, there is an example of an introductory memo to send to their supporters telling them about the on-line store and how it will help the nonprofit. Besides this, one of our associates will telephone them to answer any questions and see how they are doing.

Shelly Rachanow: What do you want people to understand most when it comes to making a difference and making our world a better place?

I believe people need to understand we are 'all' just people, and we are all important to the survival and well-being of each other and the planet.

Shelly Rachanow: And last, the 'If Women Ran the World Blog' question for everyone - What would you do if you ran the world?

I would continue to live as I do now and try to be the best example of a loving, compassionate, giving person, living in integrity and Truth, in this big 'ole world. The world will continue to be a more loving, peaceful place if we each do our part. As it has been said by others, it's an inside job, you know!

For more information, visit http://www.shopasyougive.com/.

See also http://www.zippycart.com/ecommerce-news/1606-you-get-they-get-new-ecommerce-solution-pairs-spending-with-giving.html

Shop As You Give is an "accredited" business partner with the Better Business Bureau, and has been given the highest rating available (A-) to new members.