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Thursday, June 28, 2012

So All May Eat

When I got the mystery virus that's going around Providenciales in the Turks & Caicos Islands, I didn't just get sick, I got mad.  Not only was I laid up for over a week, but I had to postpone The Denver Passport Party originally scheduled for June 13.  Grrrrr.  I really don't like disappointing children.

But here's where I get all happy and stuff.

I just re-scheduled The Denver Passport Party for July 16...but not at the magnificent Brown Palace Hotel & Spa where the party was to have taken place.  Instead, this full day of global awareness and travel talk will go down at SAME Café, the first non-profit restaurant in Denver where the patrons set the price for their mostly local organic cuisine.

Everyone, regardless of economic status,
deserves the chance to eat healthy food while
being treated with dignity.
Good food for the Greater Good.

Global awareness isn't merely about traveling to faraway places, is it?  It's also about being aware our own backyards. 

I'm excited that The Passport Party Project will host the girls from Smart Girl at SAME Café.  It's going to be a good day.  I can just feel it.

See also Humanity With Food.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Empowering Youth Through Travel participant Yael (and her mom) getting ready for the big trip!

When I reached out to Jessica Mann last year about partnering with The Passport Party Project once it made its way to Chicago, we talked candidly about how challenging non-profit work can be.  We also talked about how giving up is not an option.  I remember our conversation like it was yesterday.

Dushun shows off his first passport as he gears up for Costa Rica!

Jessica Mann
Jessica is the founder of Empowering Youth Through Travel, a small non-profit in Chicago whose mission is to empower urban teens of color from disadvantaged backgrounds, through hands-on learning of current, worldly issues. On June 20, 2012, four teens - one of which has never been on a plane and who just got his first passport - will travel to Costa Rica for an adventure of a lifetime.  You can read more about the trip here.  And you can read more about Jessica here.

Chris (and his mom) show off his ready-to-go-to-Costa-Rica passport...
Jessica is DOING it.  She's not merely thinking about it or talking about it; she's DOING the doggone thing.  And that, ladies and gentlemen, deserves a #StandingOvation in my book.  *Wild applause*

Jessica Mann ‎***BIG HUGS*** thank you so much for ALL the LOVE and SUPPORT, you're the BEST!! Thank you for being such an inspiration as well :D #Grateful for the #Blessings
Yesterday at 11:11am via mobile · · 1
  • Tracey Friley I remember our talk, Jessica, and THIS (the upcoming youth trip to Costa Rica) is why quitting is not an option. XOX
    Yesterday at 11:13am · · 1

  • Jessica Mann Yes!!!! I remember, and I have not forgotten your words of advice ;) THIS MOMENT alone motivates me to keep pushing forward :D
    Yesterday at 11:30am via mobile · · 1

  • Tracey Friley ‎#standingovation
    Yesterday at 11:37am · · 1

  • Thursday, June 14, 2012

    Celebrity Passports

    Original caption:
    1953-New York, NY: Smiling as he waves his passport, Marlon Brando sails on the Liberate for Europe. Originally scheduled to sail last week, the stage and screen actor had his passport stolen along with his luggage and was forced to delay passage.
    --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

    There is, as we all know, this intriguing fascination - from mild to extreme - with celebrities:  What they wear, who they marry, how they dance, and without a doubt, where they travel.  For years, I heard about Bruce Willis' home on Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands and couldn't help but wonder what it must be like to hang out on this exclusive private island in the British West Indies.  And then I went...and understood. 

    Although I am typing this post wrapped up in a blanket and nestled in the comfort of my sofa (I caught a funky virus) and had to postpone The Denver Passport Party scheduled for yesterday, I'm looking forward to sharing my Parrot Cay experience with the ten girls from Smart-Girl, Inc. once I get word from The Brown Palace that we're good to go again.  You see, teen girls adore celebrities and anything I can do to get them interested in traveling the world and considering the world from a more global perspective is - as far as I'm concerned - fair game. 

    Thanks, Wiki!
    So, yes, I'll tell them about how Lenny Kravitz, Julia Roberts and Johnny Depp all own their own private islands in the Bahamas and about Leonardo DiCaprio's private island in Belize and then I'll attempt to entice their parents here in this space by sharing some vintage celebrity passport photos.  You see, one of the biggest hurdles in this campaign is getting parents to follow-through and complete the passport process for their girls, so I'm pulling out all of the stops hoping I can appeal to their interest in celebrities who have passports and travel.  It might sound silly, but hey, whatever it takes.

    And so.  In the spirit of passports, travel and the celebrities who have and do both, here are half a dozen fun vintage celebrity passports that should be easily identifiable by some of you parents out there (and just maybe even some of your girls).  Enjoy!  Oh.  And if you don't have a passport, go get one.

    PLEASE NOTE: In my research, I came across a really cool site for passport collectors called, you guessed it, I think I'm hooked.
    FYI: Evidently, the Department of State has granted public access to a number of celebrity passport applications via the Freedom of Information Act.  I plan to do some more sharing on this site at a later date.

    Tuesday, June 5, 2012

    Clearing the Air

    "Considering that some folks are so well traveled, one would assume they come in contact with people from many socio-economic levels, and have a modicum of understanding that many of them can only provide the bare necessities. So planning back to back trips is out of the question when you can just afford food, clothing, and shelter. Have we reached a point where the traveler looks down upon the non traveler?"

    I just read a flattering post about The Passport Party Project written by a travel blogger. In the comments section, two people commented that even with a passport, you must still have the money to travel.  One mother from a family of 7 thought the post was condescending and said "Just because YOU still have the funds to travel doesn’t mean that everyone does, and it’s a little bit like having salt rubbed in a wound to hear > 'What? I can’t BELIEVE you don’t have passports!!'”

    Likewise, a Passport Party advocate recently took issue with what she thought was someone's insensitivity when that someone spoke about having had her passport since she was a teen and how she always planned a trip when she got back from a trip.  The Facebook response was relatively similar and is the opening quote posted above.

    So here's where I get to chime in.  =)

    The Passport Party Project is a global awareness initiative.

    In spite of the fact that the economy has created a challenge for so many families right now, when children get a passport it has the power to potentially change their perspective about their place in the world and how they might fit into it. It’s not necessarily about family vacations and finding the money for that next trip. It could be about a study abroad program that offers a grant or scholarship during high school.  In sum, it’s about being ready when the time comes.

    Sometimes travelers don't get it.

    Most people who travel frequently and have made travel a lifestyle as opposed to a luxury don't necessarily have loads of disposable income and to be frank, others do.  In many cases, some frequent travelers simply make travel a priority and forego the expensive car (or any car at all), the cute shoes or the flat screen television and opt instead to put any. extra. pennies. they might get aside into their vacation piggy banks.  So the truth is that sometimes travelers don't get it.  They don't understand why someone wouldn't have a passport or why someone wouldn't want to see the world.  Not because they are being intentionally insensitive, but because they are absorbed in the world of travel, just as a family of seven might be absorbed in trying to survive.  Each person is dealing with his or her own reality...and neither should be ostracized for it or offended by it.  Should travelers not talk about travel because they have found a way to afford it?  I think not.  No one should have to apologize for their reality, no matter what that reality might be.

    Passports foster dreams.
    Stacie Turner

    The Passport Party Project serves girls from under-served communities.  In October of this year The Passport Party Project will empower 10 girls from former Real Housewives of DC cast member Stacie Turner's charity Extra-Ordinary Life and these 10 girls are from the foster care system. One might think the odds are stacked against these girls as well; that because they might not currently have the means to travel that they aren't allowed to dream.  Oh, but think again.

    The Passport Party Project is a global awareness initiative and not a slight against those who cannot currently afford to take a vacation.  It is my way of sharing the world of travel with young girls who dream about travel and getting them the tools they need to help make those dreams come true.  If I'm doing my job correctly, The Passport Party Project encourages them to act local and think global by befriending classmates and neighbors from different cultural backgrounds because that's who they'll meet once they start traveling.  It encourages them to learn a language when it's offered in school; it encourages them to excel at math so they'll be able to convert foreign currency without a calculator (gasp!).  In my view, passports foster dreams and as we all know, dreams can come true.  That's my reality.

    What's yours?