What’s Up!? #Neverforget

screen-shot-2013-10-07-at-6-53-47-pm #Neverforget, true…certainly the events, the lives lost, the impact on our country and the world at large, the events that followed…wars, global security challenges…the world will never be the same. So prophetic, this hashtag, and yet it means so much to so many.

I was on the last plane to land at LaGuardia that day. My cell phone rang just as we hit the tarmac….about 9:00 AM, it was my sister from Chicago calling. ‘Where are you?’ she asked, rather frantically. I said, I just landed in New York…there were lots of people around me realizing that I had failed to turn off my cell phone…so I was kind of embarrassed. She said ‘don’t get off the plane, turn around and come back, we’ve been attacked!’

She’s a news person, a former news reporter for WGN, Carol Davis, and has an amazing sense for stuff that is real news. At the time, having not deplaned…I had no idea what she was talking about. I was sitting near the front and the captain was standing in the doorway, I asked him…if he knew…he said something terrible had happened..but he didn’t know what it was.

As I walked along the jetway…I decided to call my kids, just in case…both were in college and I couldn’t reach either…but I left messages letting them know I landed safely in New York and I would try and be in touch. Later, they would tell me…as they listened to my message…I’m alright..they were like…okay. Classic!

My daughter was a freshman in college in DC and the Pentagon had just been hit…so she was beginning like everyone else to realize that something horrible was happening. She was terrified, we all were.

The History Channel has put together a short video that chronicles the events of that morning.

By the end of the day, people were beginnning to comprehend the enormity of what happened, everyone knew about the Pentagon, Shanksville and of course The World Trade Center. The next two days, I was able to move around Manhattan, it was scary, there were bomb threats but at the same time, millions of spontaneous hugs, efforts to comfort perfect strangers overcome by fear, a willingness to help in whatever way was necessary. It was almost like a kind of utopia, the most generous and humane sides of everyone on full display. Such a contrast…but it gave life to the statement, the worst of circumstances can bring out the very best in ‘people’.

That was my experience. I had done business in New York for almost 20 years, often meeting weekly in the city and frequently on the 86th floor of Tower One of The World Trade Center. I had never experienced the spirit of humanity in this way. Everyone was talking about it.

I left New York by car that Thursday and drove back to Chicago, I was able to get some work done. My kids were fine and slowly our country returned to it’s invincible self but hardened by the knowledge that anything can happen. Certainly, we seem to be in similar circumstances, again.

I can only imagine the work and tireless efforts of the White House and the Executive Branch planning to respond to the vicious work of ISIS or ISIL. President Obama knows that our response has the potential to unleash an even greater terror strike against the US than before. These are very difficult and complex times.

I hate violence, I think it solves nothing. But, such an effort has the power in its destructiveness to bring out and remind us all of our humanity and responsibility toward each other.

That is my prayer for today, to know in our hearts, that we are all in this together, #neverforget.

What’s Up!!? Ernesto Quintero’s A Sacred Journey presented by Clorox?

screen-shot-2013-10-07-at-6-53-47-pmClorox is the corporate sponsor of a deeply touching documentary by Ernesto Quintero, an LA based actor, performer and documentarian. In his own words, when he learned of his brother’s diagnosis while on tour with Jennifer Lopez, he determined to return to LA to develop this documentary, A Sacred Journey, for his niece and nephew as a way for them to know and remember their father.

A Sacred Journey

Juan Quintero, Ernesto’s brother, was diagnosed with ALS in 2005. They were brothers and best friends, as children. They played baseball together, went to the same school, had the same teachers, similar friends and shared a love for family, growing up. Juan, today still lives in the community of their childhood and his children attend the same school as their father, uncles and aunts. After shooting the documentary for years, it was ready to be shared in theatres, but needed funding to finish the editing.

Ernesto launched a funding campaign which included several screenings of the film. One such screening was seen by Robin Santos, an executive with Clorox. Unbeknownst to Ernesto, the Clorox corporation was introducing and expanding a new business service and product line, designed to support the millions of Americans who find themselves in the role of caregivers for loved ones. This new effort is called ‘When Care Comes Home Initiative’ and includes a new line of products: New Cleaning and Personal Homecare Products. We were treated to a wonderful ‘swag’ bag that included this product kit and brochure materials on homecare.

The services and product line grew out of an extensive survey conducted by Clorox. The survey revealed startling facts: ‘Caregivers often put the needs of their loved ones before themselves, and over time that selflessness has an impact — both inspirational and challenging. Eighty percent of caregivers believe that their role has given them more meaning in their lives, but most of them have also felt exhausted (85 percent), frustrated (82 percent) and overwhelmed (79 percent), according to the “When Care Comes Home Survey” conducted by Clorox CareConcepts and the Caregiver Action Network (CAN).’

While significant, one of the most startling realizations of the survey was first that more than 66M Americans are or will serve as caregivers, and second, there are very few resources available to these caregivers that offer practical information to help guide them in their role whether it is new to them or has evolved with their loved one’s condition. Clorox CareConcepts is removing that obstacle by launching the website When Care Comes Home, complete with supportive tools and products to help empower those caring for a loved one. Caregivers will find links to well–respected partners, such as family Caregivers Alliance (FCA) and CAN, as well as educational content. In other words…a community offering guidance, perspective and encouragement.

How does this relate to Ernesto and Juan Quintero? Juan owned his own construction company, was happily married to his high school sweetheart and the father of two amazing children. His love of his family was known by everyone. He was and is surrounded by his parents and all of his siblings, there are 6 kids total in the family. As a close knit family, they are known in the community as people who care and who see their lives as lives of service to others. They are a loving family, always taking care of one another and all the children in the family.

Juan’s illness progressed with surprising speed. Within 18 months, he went from someone who was playing baseball  with his son and flying kites with his daughter, to being unable to dress or care for himself. Confronted with health choices to end his life or choose to live completely dependent on others, he was leaning toward an early death. His family, parents, siblings, children and his wife begged him to consider choosing life. Ultimately he did. ALS has completely robbed him of any ability to live an independent life. He is bedridden, can only communicate with the blink of an eye and every need must be attended to.

The family has rallied and each person serves as a caregiver, working in 24 hour shifts. It is an amazing example of the very best of a loving family and the extraordinary impact of caregiving, oddly the best representation of ‘When Care Comes Home. Robin Santos as a representative of the Clorox corporation saw this documentary as the absolute best example of everything Clorox learned about caregiving and caregivers. A month after the screening, she contacted Ernesto Quintero to ask if he and their family would consider serving as living examples of the best of caregiving. The family agreed and as a result, we all have the opportunity to share in this very moving story about a family and their love for one another.

Look for the screening of the film, A Sacred Journey in your city, brought to you by Clorox. Thank you!

What’s Up!!? Is Self Harm, Self Love…Cutting

screen-shot-2013-10-07-at-6-53-47-pm Cutting, a difficult form of self mutilation….was that something we saw on the arms of Robin Williams? And, self mutilation…is an expression of what exactly, self love, its hard to say. Tchaiko Omawale, a citizen of the world, having lived in seven countries before coming to New york City, is the and the ‘inspiration’ for this short film. Omawale hid her secrets of self mutilation for years. They took many forms, the most visible being ‘cutting’. People suffer in silence. Tchaiko Omawale gives voice and ‘light’ to this suffering with this award winning short film: Solace.


Trailer for “Solace” from Tchaiko Omawale on Vimeo.

Please join us for the online premiere and the google hangout that will immediately follow. Tchaiko just launched a kickstarter campaign to fund the feature version of Solace. She will share the details of that campaign and be joined by members of the cast and crew. The link to the hangout will be posted on the itsashort facebook page at the start of the premiere. To see this groundbreaking short film, register on itsashort.com, click premiere ticket to purchase ticket, return to the site, go to Browse and go to the Premiere Lounge. It’s a few steps but this short film, it’s poignancy and thoughtfulness, should not be missed. Please share with anyone for whom this could be of interest, or help.

What’s Up!!? The Movie Guys, Film Critics?

The Movie Guys PosterRoger Ebert immortalized the role and value of the 'Film Critic'. We just saw the recently released film about his life and his lifelong effort to embrace the value of the 'critics' voice. He and his partner, Gene Siskel became two of the best known critics for film, commercial and independent, in the country. And, in that effort created real space for the voices of others whose unique perspective should be heard....such is the case with our colleagues, The Movie Guys!

The Movie Guys

Paul Preston, Justin Bowler, Karen Volpe and Ray Schillaci have worked together to create The Movie Guys a weekly podcast that critiques, but on special occasions, makes fun of recently released and some not so recent movies. They are heavily involved in the comedy and horror film communities but never shy away from the opportunity to share their opinions about the ‘blockbusters’ of the week. They each have spent years in the ‘business’, in various roles, including acting roles in the case of Paul and Karen.

itsashort.com is excited to premiere their ‘critics’ episode, tomorrow, Wednesday, August 13, 2014! The premiere will be followed by a live-streamed google hangout/twitterchat. We must admit, we are kind of looking forward to their being a bit in the hot seat!! The premiere will start at 8 CDT PM and the link to the live hangout will be posted on the itsashort facebook page. Please join us!!

What’s Up!!? US Veterans…as Citizen Scientists, Awesome!!

wlk4srlAoyyOHLAb1p8_onOPh-i5wPhwCjnqt05D6TMGrizzly Tracking with Citizen Scientists  premiered online at itsashort.com and was followed by a live google hangout/twitterchat. The short film was produced by Christi Cooper-Kuhn, an award winning filmmaker, and formerly a neuro scientist. It featured the experience, led by Gregg Treinish, founder of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation, and the citizen scientists all of whom are US Veterans!

In fact, they don’t find any grizzly bears…but that wasn’t the only story. This film project was funded by The Sierra Club, specifically Stacey Bare, a US veteran himself and program officer for The Sierra Club. His interest in funding the project was to create an amazing experience for veterans. “We want to connect veterans to this great country, to help them see what they were fighting for.”

Wow!! Is that not totally cool? And, because the US Veterans are remarkably trained, their ability to serve as citizen scientists is amazing. Gregg Treinish comments that their skills for tracking and observation are awesome. Well…, yeah!

So, we had to rewatch the film, this time looking through the lens of the Citizen Scientists, really appreciating our fellow Americans.

What’s Up!!? Citizen Scientists and Grizzly Bears!


Tracking Grizzly’s with Citizen Scientists

Christi Cooper-Kuhn, a neuro-scientist turned filmmaker was engaged by the extraordinary organization Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation to film one of their expeditions, an effort to learn more about Grizzly Bears. This ‘still’ is a screen capture of a moment of discovery by the team of Bear Trackers.

Why is this important? Tracking Grizzly’s is part of a much larger effort to help preserve the habitats of Bears in the Tobacco Root Mountains of Montana. Their numbers have dwindled in alarming ways and learning more about their life habits informs the scientists and conservation communities about ideas for habitat preservation.

Cooper-Kuhn’s filmmaking has captured in ‘real time’ the efforts of citizen scientists as they discover tree markings, footprints and other ‘unmentionables’ which you will discover when you watch the film, yes there will be questions about the unmentionables!!!

Join us, August 4, 2014 at 5 PDT/6 MDT/7 CDT/8 EDT for the online premiere of Grizzly Tracking with Citizen Scientists. The premiere will be immediate followed by a live google hangout/twitterchat. Christi Cooper–Kuhn will share her perspective as the filmmaker. She will be joined by Gregg Treinish founder of Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation and Stacy Bare from The Sierra Club!

What’s Up!!? Christi Cooper-Kuhn, Neuroscientist!

wlk4srlAoyyOHLAb1p8_onOPh-i5wPhwCjnqt05D6TM Christi Cooper-Kuhn is actually a brain research scientist who decided to change careers and become a filmmaker. She created an amazing short film for the non-profit: Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. The work was supported by The Sierra Club. It is a short film about tracking Grizzly Bears, which turns out to be very important.

BarrelsHer production company.

The organization uses citizen scientists to hike trails in huge national parks to map the living patterns of Grizzly Bears, in this instance. The experience is great learning for everyone involved, there was real camping with tents, hiking trails and tracking clues left by the grizzly bears, tracking their foot patterns and scratch pattens left on trees.

For Christi, an avid hiker, preferably in large national parks, it was a chance to combine her passion for science with her passion as an artist. For more about her work, check out her website: barrelmakerproductions.com

Join us for the online premiere of Grizzly Tracking, August 4, 2014 on itsashort.com. Immediately following the movie will be a live google hangout with Christi Cooper, the cast and a special guest host from The Sierra Club. Use the hashtag #grizzlytracking to ask questions or join conversations!