Shaping Youth Via Tapestries of Hope: Go To IndieGoGo!

igg-logo-white-wih-lg.jpgLast August when Shaping Youth advisory board member and maverick documentary producer/director Michealene Cristini Risley returned from Zimbabwe, she pinged me with a handful of understated words, “Back…quite an experience!”

The links told the story…news from and Voice of America about Michealene being arrested, tossed in jail, and deported for filming activist Betty Makoni’s Girl Child Network about the bitty baby survivors of horrific rape and abuse. (men with HIV/AIDS are tainted by the mythology that having sex with a virgin will cure them of the disease)

Then yesterday, Michealene’s headline in this Huffington Post article equating the cost of human life in Zimbabwe to a $4 fast food meal wrenched me back into action for an update on the progress of Tapestries of Hope (YouTube trailer here) as she edges toward the finish line of her film’s fruition.

Obviously, it’s a touchy subject to awaken the world to the story of two child abuse survivors fighting to expose these horrors, but Michealene has managed to ‘pay it forward’ with profound positivity by giving people the tools to engage at IndieGoGo, a cool social media film fundraising site for supporters like me to make a difference.

IndieGoGo connects filmmakers and fans to make independent films happen; whether you’re sourcing cast, crew, or collaboration on an open source project of content creators or directing an indie film headed to Sundance. Here are the FAQs on how IndieGoGo works. (Two Angry Moms producers should tap into this social-marketing venue for exposure and support too!)

tapestries.jpgMichealene Cristini Risley has raised TWO rounds of financing here on IndieGoGo (a repeat first for them!) to recoup her costs on confiscated gear and film expenses to the tune of $20,000, and is now in the home stretch hoping to release the film by fall, so lend a hand if you can!

IndieGoGo now has over 300 projects posted since its doors opened at Sundance 2008 a mere four months ago! They’re building audiences and getting traction, as you can see by their new partnership with Internet Week NYC, as a viable alternative for film collaboration.

Much has happened since we last wrote about Michealene’s own film adventures…

Shaping Youth awarded her for ‘blogging with a purpose’ and the ‘girls helping girls’ philanthropy jewelry projects, empowering teens into action via consciousness clubs that literally ask kids to put themselves “In Her Shoes.”

But since then, she’s: presented to the United Nations, helped moderate the panel as an agent of change, bolstered her YouTube trailer to #1 under film and animation, and started a Facebook group of over a thousand supporters to spread the word further! (Ironically, it was a guy on Facebook that managed to have contacts at the CIA that helped get her footage out of the country; go figure!)

I nominated Michealene for the 2008 GWLN (Global Women’s Leadership Network) Women Leaders for the World…but quel surprise…she was too busy ‘doing’ to slow down long enough to ‘apply!’

michealene.jpgThis passionista is not only near and dear to my heart in cause and conviction, but for her ongoing theme of undaunted resilience and forging forward, despite all odds.

I recently highlighted Michealene’s fabulous work in my presentation at the CCFC summit about ‘using the power of media for positive change’ because it speaks so strongly to imparting a media message of hope and perseverance to tap into a larger view of the human condition.

Now, we just all need time to ramp up those ‘HouseParties’ on a global scale…maybe this summer for a social student siege as we ramp up our teen advisors for the fall season?

women-who-light-the-dark.jpgWe’ve found kids relate to the plight of other individuals besides themselves when they see peer to peer action, like the Harry Potter Alliance tackling the Darkness of Darfur or hear of Women Who Light the Dark like Michealene or Paola Gianturco, who recently spoke at the GWLN Dialogues.

I’m not saying everyone needs to join the DoGoodChannel (although this new free web service in beta IS neat, connecting people with causes and nonprofits) but when kids can think outside themselves early on, it adds wholeness and perspective.

It’s all about balance so children don’t feel the weight of the world too fast, but sure puts some grounding into petty lunch table spats, friendship foibles, or being dissed at the dance, ya know? (see our series on marketing mindfulness and the big give philanthropy)

this-is-not-the-life-i-ordered.jpgMoreover, the lesson of children helping children is a strong one, teaching resiliency at multiple levels.

In fact, she co-authored this book that carries the inspiration forward, by turning ‘survive into thrive’ called “This is Not the Life I Ordered: 50 Ways to Keep Your Head Above Water When Life Keeps Dragging You Down”

The foursome who comprise this gal pal kitchen klatch support system that took place over a decade, include none other than CA State Senator Jackie Speier, Jan Yanehiro, Deborah Collins Stephens, and yes, Michealene Cristini Risley.

I think it may very well be my ‘milestone birthday pick’ for any midlife mama needing a jolt of vibrancy and sustenance. As the jacket promo says:

“One was shot five times and left for dead in South America. Another’s television show was abruptly cancelled during the time her husband was diagnosed with brain cancer. A third confronted her father on a dirty family secret: sexual abuse. The fourth had a wonderful life when suddenly her husband was diagnosed with a terminal lung disease.”

It’s a buddy book that’s hilarious, heartwarming, and filled with vignettes of poignancy that can move you to tears as well. They tackle bits like, “How to maintain perspective in the middle of a crisis, what to do when the unexpected happens, moving on, moving up, and moving out, and seeing the best in your life even when life is not the best.”

african-girl.JPGIt seems only fitting then, that these ‘survivor personalities’ would give rise to new pathways, and in Michealene’s case, pay it forward to help others survive as well.

Those little girls in Zimbabwe have a healing story to tell us all, and Michealene’s capturing their smiles and hope through the wisdom of her own very personal lens.

Visit IndieGoGo/Tapestries of Hope and help her bring this important film across the finish line with a strong supportive burst of energy in the final leg…Let’s make it happen for these kids.

Related Resources on Tapestries of Hope/Michealene Cristini Risley

Michealene’s Open Letter to President Mugabe

Gratitude Musings After Incarceration in Zimbabwe

Media Blog Awards: New Communications Review Salutes Tapestries of Hope

Cinematical: Review of the Teaser Trailer

Sundance Film Festival

The Survivor Personality

Facebook Groups: What You Can Do:

1. Help make the FACEBOOK group and causes pages grow. Tell your friends to join Facebook and join the ‘Silent Bravery: Tapestries of Hope’ group. Also have them adopt the TAPESTRIES OF HOPE cause!

2. Donate (at IndieGoGo)

3. Call or email your government representatives to tell them we must do more to help in Zimbabwe. THANK YOU for doing one thing to shift the world to a better place.

Editorial Note: This might make you riled enough to act fast, just saw this on the Facebook wall, don’t know how I missed it before; posted after Michealene’s trip to meet with government officials last fall,

“Washington’s initial response was worse than pathetic. Some of the comments included: Congress has “Rape fatigue right now,” Congress has already approved appropriations for foreign aid for the year…and here’s the clincher (from a Washington strategist) who suggested she use “fear tactics to let Congress know that the rape and abuse of young children is coming here, as African men are migrating.” (I am not kidding!)” egad.

P.S. Update from Shaping Youth’s dear GWLN crew!  

philo-ikonya.jpgAnother Courageous Thought Leader from!

Just received this ping about WLW graduate Philo Ikonya being interviewed on Friday, June 6, 2008 on Cheryl Esposito’s Leading Conversations show on Voice of America to protest Kenya’s continued violence and unrest.

Tune in next week…



  1. Hi Amy, great post. We’re having a series of events (fundraisers primarily) to raise awareness on the project. Would love to have you join us in one of them. Happy to keep you posted, and thanks for a very nice write up.

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