From Memorial Day to Veterans Day, Dog Bless You, a non-profit community created by explore.org founder Charlie Annenberg Weingarten, will celebrate dogs and soldiers in America through a new campaign called Dog Bless USA. Funds raised by a challenge grant on the Dog Bless You Facebook page will be used to give service dogs to war veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). explore.org will donate one service dog to a veteran suffering from PTSD for every 5,000 "Likes" on the community page, up to 100 dogs or $500,000.
Post-traumatic stress disorder affects as many as 20 percent of military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. This crippling anxiety disorder causes anger, depression, major stress, fear, agitation, and numbness. Hidden from sight, PTSD isn't as obvious as physical injuries but can be just as serious. And sometimes the best therapy is the companionship of a service dog.
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and an assortment of dog and veteran related organizations have come together to raise awareness of PTSD and the healing role that dogs can play in people's lives. This unique campaign offers people a chance to participate in spreading the word and raising money simply by clicking "Like" on the Dog Bless You Facebook page. The community page is comprised of over 260,000 people already, and features photos, videos, and discussions aimed and educating and inspiring. Join today.
The gruesome images that made their way out of Rwanda during the summer months of 1994 are indelibly etched into all of our minds. Over a million people were killed while the world looked on and ultimately did nothing. In a media atmosphere where the world's attention shifts rapidly away from tragedy almost as soon as it ends, Rwanda in 1994 has stuck with us.
But what has happened in this small, landlocked country since then? Exactly seventeen years have now passed since the genocide occurred, and Rwanda has managed to maintain a semblance of stability, avoiding the crises that its neighbors have endured. What is the reason for this? How has this country reconciled its past, and how do victims and perpetrators alike live together in the present?
Charles Annenberg Weingarten and the explore.org Team traveled to Rwanda to answer that very question. The film that resulted from the trip, Raindrops Over Rwanda, focuses on the Kigali Memorial Centre and a young man who survived the genocide and now serves as the Centre's head guide. Link TV is bringing you the world broadcast premiere of Raindrops Over Rwanda on Monday, 5pm PT/8pm ET and Wednesday at 8pm PT/11pm ET.
Kigali Memorial Centre is more than just a museum. It is a focal point for honoring the anonymous dead, a communal cemetery for a country where there were too many bodies for most to be identified. It is a space for the community to come together for reconciliation and healing. It is a way to remember the past in the hopes that it will never be repeated.
For most foreigners experiencing the memorial for the first time, Honoré Gatera is the guide, teacher, storyteller, and historian all in one. Honoré is our guide in this film as well, providing a first person perspective on genocide that few people in the world are able to give.
After explore.org's trip to Rwanda, Honoré came to the United States for the very first time and sat down with Charlie at Link TV headquarters for a memorable interview. Stay tuned after the film as we bring you this exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how the movie was made, as well as Honoré's experiences and unique worldview. Survivors like Honoré, and the Rwandan people in general, have the ability to teach the world not only about how to avoid genocide, but also how to heal and forgive in order to live together in the future.
Watch a promo for Raindrops Over Rwanda (airing Monday, 5pm PT/8pm ET):
The immediate threat of violence permeates throughout the documentary No Child is Born A Terrorist, as explore.org filmmaker Charlie Annenberg confronts an ever-present feeling of potential danger. Yet one calming influence exists in the form of a man who seems to stand above it all, everyone's friend and guide into an unknown world. That man, the great Juliano Mer-Khamis, was killed on Monday, April 4th, shot to death outside the very theater he hoped would provide alternative outlets besides aggression.
|Juliano Mer-Khamis, right, with Charlie Annenberg and Zakariya Zubeidi|
Mer-Khamis was a living bridge between Palestine and Israel. Half Palestinian, half Israeli, he was an actor who devoted his life to increasing cross-cultural understanding and artistic expression in one of the most oppressive areas of West Bank, a refugee camp in the city of Jenin. It was there where he opened The Freedom Theater in 2006 along with Zakariya Zubeidi, former military head of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Mer-Khamis was the son of Arna Mer, a prominent Jewish Israeli political activist, and Saliba Khamis, a Palestinian Christian. Arna Mer opened the original theater in 1987 as The Stone Theater, and Juliano was devoted to carrying on his mother's legacy. Mer-Khamis documented his mother's work in the 2004 film "Arna's Children," which won first prize a the Canadian International Documentary Festival. His best-known roles were in the 1985 film "Rage and Glory" and 2000's "Kippur."
Charlie Annenberg and the explore Team traced the steps that Mer-Khamis walked everyday, getting a firsthand view of this unique man's influence and dedication. The camp is home to more than 16,000 Palestinian refugees, half of whom are under 18. Mer-Khamis' work gained extra significance in this atmosphere, instilling an understanding of tradition and culture in Palestinian youth. In the film, Charlie conveys that, "The theater gave the kids in the camp a stage to express their joy, their frustration, anger and hope."
Palestinian security forces have made an arrest in the killing, although the suspect has yet to confess. With Mer-Khamis' death, No Child is Born a Terrorist becomes a living tribute to a person that described himself as "100 percent Palestinian, 100 percent Jewish" and sought to create a foundation for peace beginning with the youth. In the film, Mer-Khamis states his belief in Palestinian youth, saying, "As human beings, if you give them meaning, if you give them something to live for, they are not going to become terrorists, they will not be violent." His work will live on through The Freedom Theater.
Watch the explore film, No Child is Born a Terrorist, online now:
Our friends at explore.org have teamed up with HATCH to champion the selfless acts of others through a film competition at this year’s HATCHfest Bozeman.
The explore/HATCH award presented by explore.org will be given to a filmmaker who best tells the story of a remarkable individual’s actions in response to a devastating environmental event. From a woman who adopted orphaned children after the tsunami to a captain and his crew that saved the 115 survivors of Deepwater Horizon, explore.org wants to see how you define heroism in the face of catastrophe while inspiring others.
explore.org is a multimedia organization that documents leaders around the world who have devoted their lives to extraordinary causes. Both educational and inspirational, they create a portal into the soul of humanity by championing the selfless acts of others. In line with explore’s mission, HATCH inspires service and makes a positive impact on people and the planet in a creative way through film, music, photography, journalism, fashion, architecture, design, technology and more.
Winner of the first explore/HATCH award presented by explore.org will receive an all-expense-paid trip to HATCHfest Bozeman September 22-25 and be presented with a Canon HD SLR camera package from explore.org’s founder and documentary filmmaker, Charles Annenberg Weingarten, and HATCH. If you or someone you know has made a film highlighting a cause that inspires others to make a difference, submissions are now open!
Funding for the explore/HATCH award is made possible through the efforts of explore.org and the Annenberg Foundation.
Withoutabox Submission Guidelines:
Special Encore Presentation this Monday at 5pm PST/8pm EST!
This past May at the 2010 Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride, our partners at explore.org received a very special honor, the Moving Mountains Prize, for their film "Fish Out of Water." The Moving Mountains Prize is awarded when a film depicts a unique mission or extraordinary impact of a non-profit organization. Featured in "Fish Out of Water," Sun Valley Adaptive Sports helps war veterans cope with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through fly fishing and other therapeutic outdoor activities. And as you will see when you watch the film, this organization is truly moving mountains.
"Fish Out of Water" began airing on Link TV in March (also available to watch online), but we are airing a special encore presentation because in addition to celebrating explore's success at MountainFilm, we were also introduced to a touching story that unfolded during the festival awards ceremony.
Christian Ellis, a vet whom Director Charlie Annenberg Weingarten became close with during the making of his film, experienced terrible traumas in Iraq. Losing many of his friends and fellow soldiers in combat, surviving a broken back, and suffering from severe PTSD, Christian returned home to a new reality.
Struggling to move forward, Christian returned to his music studies for the first time since he was 15. It had been a long-time dream of his to sing opera, and with a little encouragement from his new friend Charlie and two years of singing lessons, on Memorial Day Christian realized his dream. Closing the awards ceremony at the Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride, after the screening of "Fish Out of Water," Christian sang a moving aria about his experiences in Iraq.
Fast forward to minute 10 to hear Christian's aria. It's a true testament to the resilience and strength so many men and women of service embody:
Earlier this week, Jennifer Kirby, Link TV's COO, and I were invited to be guests on a show called Open at the local cable access channel BronxNet in the Bronx to talk about our organization and why we are partnered with so many PEG channels. Jennifer Kirby has been working with Link TV for many years, and she is as New York as you can get, having been born and raised in the city, with roots in every borough including her Italian side from the Bronx. It was very meaningful for her to be able to promote Link TV to this special community, and exciting for me to be a part of this incredible opportunity as well. You can watch our interview here (we come in at 27 minutes, but please, if you have time, enjoy the whole segment!):
Open is a weekly series on BronxNet that focuses on international news and gives voice to those who are marginalized in the diverse neighborhoods of the Bronx. The channel is received in 1.5 million households, 60% of which have been shown by independent marketing studies to be tuning in! Link TV is thrilled that BronxNet is airing explore three times a week, bringing Charlie Annenberg's global findings through his unique message of philanthropy, "Never Stop Learning", to the people of the Bronx.
It was so much fun to meet the staff at BronxNet, to see their station, and witness the youth mentoring and media training program in action. BronxNet is the only public access station in the nation that operates six different channels, including one that is made by young people for young people! Now that Link TV has an engagement department that works with an active youth network of over 160,000 through YouthNoise, we are excited about all of the ways Link TV can engage the audiences and young media professionals who are trained through programs like this one at BronxNet.
At the end of our interview, we were asked if BronxNet could put more Link TV programs on their channel... to which we gladly replied that they should take as much content as they possibly can! A special thank you goes out to their Executive Director, Michael Max Knobbe, who has kindly helped connect Link TV with the neighboring public access channels in both Queens and Brooklyn. Michael has been working at BronxNet for almost two decades, since before it was even BronxNet! This kind of dedication and longevity is not uncommon at public access stations. In fact, every single leader I've met in public access has been working for their channel for many, many years. The only other place I know of that retains employees to that extent is Link TV, which also is still run by the same people that started it over ten years ago. We could all probably get much higher paying jobs somewhere else in the media landscape, but the work that we do is so rewarding and important, I'm not sure any of us would feel like ourselves if we were to leave it behind. And so we are proud to keep moving things forward, protecting independent media, alternative information, and freedom of expression.
Thanks for checking in, and please come back soon for our next update on Public Access where Link TV is able to be a part of thinking globally, and acting locally!
One of the challenges here at Link TV when it comes to distributing our content to local cable channels is the need to prove that what we have shared has actually gotten on the air. Recently, we spent some time contacting channels to find out how they feel about the content they have taken from us to see if it has been well received and put to good use. Here are some of my favorite testimonials:
Old Rochester Community Television in Marion, MA, writes in:
"explore programs are an essential part of our programming philosophy here at ORCTV. On a personal note it was like a gift from the heavens the day I came across your programming as I feel the world can only become a more peaceful place when we as people come to understand that there is more commonality across cultures than we are often led to believe. At the end of the day most of us here on this planet simply want a roof over our heads, food for our families and education along with a better and safer life for our children... Your programs express these ideas to our viewership better than any other programs currently available to Public Access outlets."
And from Artesia, New Mexico:
"[I am] absolutly thrilled and happy...with PegMedia.org AND Link TV. I've been downloading a number of shows that have really increased the viewership of the station, and explore is one of our crowning jewels. The quality of the show is outstanding and a number of people have commented to me directly on how happy they were to see something so well-made, timely and interesting on the station. I couldn't be happier with the feedback. A HUGE thank you to you, PegMedia, Link TV, and (especially) Charlie. You've made my life much easier, my station viewed more, AND the viewers much more educated!"
If you haven't yet had a chance to check out explore, you can visit to www.linktv.org/explorespecials or www.explore.org. explore has served as our front-runner since the beginning of our distribution efforts, and thanks to the compelling and high-quality content, every channel that saw it, liked it, and became an official Link TV affiliate. So, many thanks to the explore Team, and Charlie Annenberg who has always believed in the importance of independent media and community media. There is no way Link TV would have had the resources to share our content with all of our new friends in Public Access without Charlie's vision for us to do so, and the support to make it happen. To date, there are 16 full episodes of explore on PegMedia.org!
If you want to bring this show or any other Link TV programs to your local cable channel, contact us and select "Request Link TV in Your Area" from the drop down subject menu. Lastly, if you have seen Link TV on a local cable channel in your community, please post a note below to let us know!
In recognition of Veterans Day, explore has released a new short called "Fish Out of Water", a documentary about the effects of war on the thousands of U.S. soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. To help these selfless heroes cope with the trauma they've suffered -- often in the form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, or loss of limbs and other physical injuries -- Sun Valley Adaptive Sports in Idaho hosts stunning and peace-filled nature trips through their "Wounded Warrior Veterans Program", where vets can meditate through fishing and convene with their natural surroundings. This moving film illustrates how the body may heal its injuries over time, but often the mind takes much longer to recover.
Take a moment to watch this film - it is a beautiful tribute to those serving our country so selflessly.