Opening Our Eyes movie

I Will Not Refuse – Gail Mooney & Erin Kelly producers of Opening Our Eyes

I watched a wonderful film the other day, Opening Our Eyes: Global Stores about the Power of One.  The movie shows individuals all across the world and close to home who are making a difference.  Whether they are opening orphanages and schools in Nepal, providing clean water in Peru, or helping the teen homeless population in Australia these average people are having a major impact in the lives of others.  Although their stories are amazing I often find them to be so far away from what I feel I am called or able to do.  Could I take my life’s savings and invest it in a community on the other side of the world?  Could I stand up to politicians to help those without a voice?  Could I have the courage to take on an enormous project?  The answer is truthfully no.  But there is something I can do. Opening Our Eyes

This movie starts out with a quote from Helen Keller I had never heard before, “I am only one, but still I am one.  I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”  I cannot do everything so I will not refuse to do what I can.  What a powerful statement.  How often do we see the major issues of the world and feel powerless?  How often do we say, “I am just one person what affect can I have?”  We cannot do everything, but there is something we can and should do.  Look around you.  Look in your own backyard.  Look at your own family, friends, and community.  What is there that you can affect?  What is there that you can control?  What is it that you can do to make the world just a little bit better?  It does not have to be grandiose.  One of the other points the Opening Our Eyes movie makes is that it only takes one degree for hot water to turn to boiling.  What is that one degree for you?  Perhaps it can be helping out a family member or friend in need.  Perhaps it is volunteering in your local community.  Perhaps it is smiling at the cashier when you are buying groceries.  All of this has an impact on our world and how we experience it. Here are two ways you can make a difference:

  1. Find ways to volunteer in your local community.  Check out HandsOn Suburban Chicago if you are in the Chicagoland area.  Hands On is a hub for volunteer activities linking local non-profits with those who want to give back.  What I love is that they offer a myriad of ways to give back.  If the idea of working a soup kitchen doesn’t interest you, maybe you want to help out by creating a local community garden.  Perhaps there is a skill you have like website design or accounting that could be a huge benefit to a non-profit; you can volunteer your time and expertise.
  2. Host a screening of Opening Our Eyes to inspire those around you.  The filmmakers Gail Mooney and Erin Kelly are also looking to film more stories for an additional movie or potentially a television series.  If you have connections which could assist them or if you would like to help through a donation, contact these wonderful women.

Share below the ways you are currently or in the future making a difference.  What is that thing you will not refuse to do?

The Empowerment Show

Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Things – documentary filmmakers Sarah Moshman and Dana Michelle Cook on The Empowerment Show

A few weeks ago I was invited to the Women’s Exchange in Winnetka to hear a talk by two documentary filmmakers. When I arrived I was surprised to find two young women, Sarah Moshman and Dana Michelle Cook, with a purpose. The goal of “The Empowerment Project” is to create positive content for women by shining a light on inspirational, powerful, and strong women in many career fields across the US.  That evening there was terrific discussion about what made a woman extraordinary. One theme that came up again and again was not to highlight the big names, the top women, but to show the women who are competing in traditional male fields and succeeding, but succeeding by following their own rules. Growing up in the 80’s many of the successful women I saw were the ones who dropped their femininity and truth, so they could play the game of being a business”man.” Again and again at this event, there was a desire to see women who embraced who they were and still found the success they desired. Extraordinary Women

What I loved was that Dana and Sarah are also walking the talk with the production of their documentary. There will be an all-female film crew participating in the one month cross-country trek. The filmmakers commented about how often women crewmembers are overlooked and wanted to ensure they were also empowering their team.  The documentary will tell the stories of ten strong women and shine light on what it’s like to be a woman in their professional position, what it took to get there, what it’s like to balance a personal life with work, as well as any advice or stories they can share. They plan to interview 10 women in a wide variety of career fields across the US to inspire women nationwide to go after their ambitions. The goal is to create a webisode for each story, ultimately making a 10 part docu-series as the end result.  Moshman explained, “We feel as though there isn’t enough positive content available in the media for women these days and we want to be a part of that shift towards a better balance.”

Sarah and Dana both come from reality TV backgrounds producing on shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and they have also produced two other short documentaries about female empowerment under their production company Heartfelt Productions. Their first webisode for the series briefly featured in their Kickstarter video includes 2013 Sundance Best Director Winner Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under, United States of Tara) as she discusses how women should follow their inner impulse when it comes to directing. Jane Lynch is featured in the full webisode speaking to Jill’s directing expertise as her longtime friend and collaborator.  To travel across the country for a month with 4 women is not cheap. Sarah and Dana need the money for equipment rentals (camera, audio, lighting, etc), accommodations, transportation from city to city, food, permits, insurance, hard drives, memory cards, and the list goes on and on. Upon writing this post, they are halfway to their Kickstarted goal. You can learn more or help them reach their goal here. This project will only be funded if at least $25,000 is pledged by Monday May 27, 12:31pm EDT.  Update:  Thrilled that the team reached above and beyond their goal!  Thank you all for your support.

The Empowerment Project film now available for download on IndieFlix.