Pictures from Rome

The Colosseum

President Gorbachov, former President of the USSR

Kelly Kennedy doing a rain dance

President Gorbachov, M. Yunnus and M.C. Maguire

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Mohamed Yunus

Bob Geldof annoucing launch date for Peace Channel TV


“Violence is a preventable disease”

… was the subtitle for the “Charter for a World without Violence” which the Nobel Laureates wrote into the early hours of the morning today in order to present the Charter to the world at a 9:30 press conference. With personalities like the Dalai Lama, Gorbachov, Muhammad Yunnus, Mary Williams and MC Maguire this four page document (which for some reason does not seem to be online yet, I will post the link when I find it or they put it up) seems to be more then just the sentiments of a three day summit of just talking and a step by step process for what we need to do to end violence in this world. The Charter includes 13 points that governments and organizations must follow to end violence.

After presenting the document that the laureates worked on all night, they had this to say:

“The greatest killer in the world is not guns or bombs but apathy” -M. Williams

“History is not set, history always has room for initiative and change” -M. Gorbachov

“A great problem that we have is that we do not ask our children what kind of world they want to live in” -M. Yunnus

“We were born to live life, be happy and celebrate life, not to die” -M. Maguire

“I have nothing to say” -His Holiness the Dalai Lama (apparently suggesting that they document spoke for it self)

After a few moments he then said, “we will not solve any problems in one swoop but rather on a small scale”

The summit ended with each of the laureates talking about the importance of actually taking action on what was talked about during the summit. There is no question the they have taken action and will continue to do so, it was rather up to those who attended to enact the charter and to spread the message of the weekend, which was of course to end violence.

In an odd arrangement, due to the scheduling nightmare of bringing together the movers and shakers of the world, there was actually one session after the press conference, led by Muhammad Yunnus. He had several interesting points that deviated from the typical speech on the topic of youth. He said that “The youngest generation does not have a dream”. He went on to suggest that each generation had their ideal society but not the youngest generation. He also suggested that it is a shame as the youngest generation seems to be in the best position to put in place whatever they want, he was referring to how tech savvy young people are. He even suggested that the old saying that the older is wiser is not longer true and that it is now the young is wiser. He ended by suggesting that his generation has an obligation to help the youngest generation find their dream and their destination.

It was a truly fascinating speech from a man who has helped millions through the microcredit. The entire summit brought about sense that one person really can make a difference to those who attended. To see and hear the stories of these Nobel laureates who each in their own way has saved lives, ended suffering and even helped prevent the end of the world (of course that would be Gorbachov). I personally feel inspired to do more for issues that never seemed pressing such as nuclear disarmament. I strongly urge anyone who is reading this to look into what you personally can do to make this world a better place. We only get one life and one planet, it seems a shame to waste either.

Like a mother loves a child

We must love our planet and all those who live on it like a mother loves a child was the message from his holiness the Dali Lama at the opening of the 8th Annual Summit of Nobel Laureates. The Dali Lama, who is truly a captivating speaker, gave the opening address for the summit after the former President of the USSR, Gorbachov, and the Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni awarded George Clooney and Don Cheadle the 2007 Peace Summit Award.

The two American actors each gave remarkably humble acceptance speeches for two of the most popular men in the city, even the world. Don Cheadle’s speech started with his admission that he almost did not accept the award because he did not think his work measured up to the work of the Laureates giving the award. In fact, had it not been for his sensible wife who pointed out that he could recive the award without making the award about him, Cheadle might not have been there.

Although Clooney did not seem unwilling to accept the award his humbleness came in the form of a call to action. His speech centered around the notion that the freedom of speech does not give one the right to run into a crowded theater and scream fire, unless there is one. His point was that he and everyone in the room had the right and the ability to speak up for those who cannot and that we therefore had an obligation to do so.

Just as the two actors were humbled to receive the award, it was humbling for anyone who considered it important to change the wrongs they see in the world to be in a room with people like the Dali Lama, Gorbachov, Betty Williams, M.C. Maguire and Mohamuod Yunnus, all of who gave similar speeches calling for the world to take action to end poverty, end violence and make our world a better place to live.

A particularly emotional appeal came from M.C. Maguire, noted for her work to end violence in Irleand, who called out to the young people in the room to organize and stand up to the injustices that are all around them. Coming from a women who actually did that, there was not a person in the room who did not get shivers (I know I did).

Later events included two panels with both Gorbachov and Betty Williams. Both sessions included questions for the panel from German college students, in town for the summit. Sadly one youngerster was compelled to point out that neither pannel contained a young person despite the title of the summit “The Next Generation”. Hopefully, the summit’s organizers will reconsider this for next year.

Nonetheless it is a true honor to attend a conference with people who have literally changed the course of history in a city that has so much history. It is hard to pay attention to where I am going when on every corner there is a building or a satute or a fountain that was built before my ancestors spotted plymouth rock. Not to mention the fabulous food and remarkably kind people that can be found in every little Pizzeria, Cafe and Bar (a bar in Italy is more like a coffee shop in the US and serves up a stunning array of baked goods and sandwiches).

Check back tomorrow for more from Rome, or has they say here, Roma. Arrivedela!

Pictures to come when I get back to the US.


Youth Leadership Fellow to go to Rome for Gathering of Nobel Peace Laureates

On Tuesday, I will board a plane at Washington Dulles International Airport headed to Rome, Italy for the 8th Annual Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. The summit is hosted by the City of Rome and the Gorbachev Foundation. The summit is aimed at bringing together a number of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates to discuss the theme of “The Next Generation.”

A major part of the event is the awarding of the annual Peace Summit Award which is given to an artist or artists who have worked towards peace. This year, George Clooney and Don Cheadle are being given the award for the work they have done to spread awareness of the current crisis in Darfur.

Walter Veltroni, the Mayor of Rome, and Mikhail Gorbachev, former President of Russia, will be giving the award to the Ocean’s 11 Celebs on Thursday the 13th.

Nobel Laureates expected to attend include, Muhammad Yunnus, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Betty Williams. His holiness, the Dalai Lama will not just be attending but opening the first session of the summit as well as giving a lecture on new ethics of the new Millenium.

The summit will also hold a number of workshops and roundtable discussions with the Nobel Laureates throughout the City of Rome aimed at engaging the public.

I am truly honored by the opportunity to attend such a prestigious summit with some of the greatest men and women of our time. Check back later this week for more posts during the summit which runs from the 13th to the 15th.

Preparing for the Holidays? Rather than white, make it a GREEN holiday this year.

Finished your holiday shopping yet? Can’t figure out what to get for your special someone?

You have come to the right place! If any of you are looking to buy more sustainable or fair trade gifts for loved ones here is a quick list of websites for different kinds of socially and environmentally responsible gift ideas. Check out the links below to buy very special holiday gifts for your loved ones AND support your favorite green organizations.

Two Special Holiday Auctions:

Dr. Jane’s Personal Items Auction – with proceeds going to the Jane Goodall Institute THIS IS A FAVORITE OF OURS!


Farm Sanctuary “Charity Buzz” Holiday Auction – with proceeds going to Farm Sanctuary.

Other Resources for Green Gifts.

  1. Roots & Shoots Beads for Life make a great stocking stuffer!
  2. Tanzanian Gombe Reserve from Green Mountain Coffee has the Jane Goodall Good For All Seal of approval and makes a great gift for a coffee lover!
  3. The Rainforest Site has fair trade items for sale from around the world.
  4. Ten Thousand Villages is another great fair trade store.
  5. Novica is an online store that has partnered with National Geographic to offer fair trade goods from indigenous and impoverished groups from all over the world.
  6. Organic Bouquet is a fresh flower delivery company that donates a percentage of each sale to a different non-profit organization (each NGO has their own sponsored bouquet).
  7. Fire & Light Originals formed in 1995 as a partnership between the Arcata Community Recycling Center in Humboldt County, California, and a group of local investors who wanted to develop an innovative plan for using crushed, recycled glass. Their dishware is beautiful and it’s all recycled glass from CA!
  8. If you’re looking for furniture, Whit McLeod furnishings are made from reclaimed lumber. The finest quarter-sawn oak, salvaged from oak wine casks. Infusing the grain with burgundy highlights. And creating a line of home furnishings for indoors and out.
  9. The Sierra Club has a Green Holiday Gift Guide
  10. Most major environmental non-profits, zoos and aquaria offer animal adoptions as a great gift and charitable donation. To find information about your local Zoo or Aquarium visit the Association of Zoos and Aquariums
  11. Ocean Conservancy Wine Club – Located in the wine country of California’s Central Coast just south of beautiful San Luis Obispo and famed Morro Bay, and five miles from the rugged coast, Edna Valley Paragon Vineyard soils are rich with ancient marine deposits. Be one of the first to experience the Ocean Conservancy Wine Club, each delivery includes seasonal food & wine pairing tips and sustainable seafood recipes from celebrity chef Joey Altman. For every quarterly shipment of Edna Valley Vineyard wines, a contribution of $5 will be donated to Ocean Conservancy. To join the wine club call 1-888-391-WINE (9463).
  12. Endangered Species Chocolate – Savor chocolate this holiday season while saving our planet. Endangered Species Chocolate premium and organic chocolate is 100% ethically traded and their colorful wrappers not only increase awareness of threatened or endangered species, but also inspire proactive conservation. Endangered Species Chocolate donates 10% of net profits to help support species, habitat and humanity to Ocean Conservancy and Chimp Haven. Shop today for holiday gift giving ideas!
  13. Looking for the perfect gift for the boater on your shopping list? is dedicated to providing boaters and sailors with high-quality environmentally friendly boating products. extensively researches every product they carry to assure they are made in a responsible way and have the least impact on the environment. While shopping be sure to indicate Ocean Conservancy as a Friend of the Earth at checkout, and will donate 5% of the sale to support our ocean conservation efforts.
  14. Social Studies Designs makes really cute accessories and ornaments made from recycled clothing.