Meb Keflizhigi, Grassroots, & It's a Boy!

MARIA ISABEL

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The conflict in Colombia was brutal. So much so that many of the stories I heard there aren’t ones I always feel comfortable repeating.

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A friend asked me if there was any concern that the fighting would reemerge. If the conflict could resume. Honestly, it was a good question. Both Colombian and American news sources I came across recently highlighted recent setbacks in the process of peace building.

But, based on what I saw in person: I feel pretty good about where things are heading in Colombia.

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I feel that way because of the people I met. They were so committed to making sure things never went back to the way they were that it drove and motivated their daily activities.

Many people committed to creating more economic opportunities so people would be less vulnerable to violence.

Maria Isabel, who fed me the best soursop juice ever, ran her doll making shop and her farm with so much heart that you knew it wasn’t just about the dolls.

Others committed to empowering, healing, and educating others.

Angelita (second pics) played a specIal role in the reconciliation process by making sure women were front and center of healing efforts.

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A single individual can’t really go to war on his own. Similarly, building peace takes all hands on deck. I’m glad Colombia has some great ones moving things forward.

VIOTA SCHOOL

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This is what progress looks like to me. 🇨🇴🇨🇴🇨🇴🇨🇴🇨🇴

On one of our drives around Viotá, our driver slowed down to point out a marker on the side of the road. En memorial a todos las personas quien perdieron la vida en la guerra... in memory of those who lost their lives in the war. It was installed where about a decade ago, guerrilla fighters had slaughtered 22 paramilitary members.

Less than a half mile away from the marker, we passed by a school painted in bright orange.

“What happened to that school during that time? Would people even send their kids?”

Unsurprisingly the answer was no. This conflict disrupted everyday life to the point where kids couldn’t peacefully learn the skills for a better future.

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We spent most of that day with a group of young people, probably the right age to have been the students that missed school back then, learning what they were doing now to move forward. On the way back, we passed by that same site. To my surprise, we pulled over and were led into a classroom while class was in session.

The teacher introduces us to the students and they eagerly tell us everything that they do to care for the environment.

💧Not wasting water.

🗑 Throwing away trash in the right place.

🍥 Not tossing your gum in the streets.

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We have the ability to leave yesterday’s horrors behind. The future can be so much better.

GRASSROOTS IS HERE!

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IT’S HERE. 🙌🏾 TODAY’S THE DAY!

The #grassrootspodcast is officially officially officially out, and what I mean by that is that the first full episode is out on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else.

You can stream it.

You can subscribe.

You can leave a rating and review. (Well, on some podcast platforms.)

You can share this post in your stories, tag your friends in this post, and help me get the word out.

And I’d love for you to do all those things!

This @plantwpurpose podcast has been a labor of love. It’s been at least 30 hours of work a week from me for the past couple months. We surprised ourselves by getting some sweet guests lined up, and worked with some damn good collaborators (@nicklaparra, @chadmichaelsnavely, see what I did there?)

Here’s why. You’ve probably already heard that we’re in a crucial moment when it comes to dealing with our environmental crisis. And in places like Northern Thailand, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Haiti, this is a matter of immediate survival. But the voices of Haitians, Thai Farmers, Mozambican biologists, etc. are often left out of the important conversations.

This podcast is an attempt to apply my love of adventures, culture, and storytelling, to amplify their voices. Sometimes that’s meant wrestling with Haiti’s poor internet connectivity for two hours before getting to start an interview. Sometimes that’s meant literally going overseas to meet people directly.

And I’m convinced it’ll be worth it. And I can use your help! Listen! Subscribe! Rate! Share! And thanks already!!!

ROOT CAUSES

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The thing that drew me towards international development were intense stories. Rescuing child soldiers. Providing relief to a war zone. Busting up a trafficking ring.

And for a while, I thought that was what my contribution to the world would look like.

And so I spent years trying to get closer and closer to the places where those things were happening so I could learn what I could do.

And the more time I spent around people, the more my thinking started to shift.

It’s great to rescue a trafficked kid, but it would be way better if the kid was never trafficked in the first place.

I realized that the one thing that consistently made people vulnerable to everything from war to trafficking to malnourishment was poverty. And I realized that the poorest people were coming from rural areas that they could no longer farm for a living because of soil erosion and climate change.

I tell a bit of my story in the first episode of the #grassrootspodcast. These days, my contribution looks like doing what I can to help rural villages plant trees and farm better. It’s a lot of little things instead of one large intervention.

And the thing that constantly surprises me? It all connects to those other issues that caught my attention in the first place. It’s not an exaggeration to say a healthy environment reduces the risk of human trafficking, puts more girls in school, and contributes to peace-building efforts.

Tune in to our first episode of Grassroots, The Roots of Everything. Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and everywhere else.

MEB’S BOOK

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Insta was down, so I read six books. Kidding. These are my summer reads from the past few weeks.

I like running. Sometimes. But I feel like I enjoy reading about competitive running disproportionately more than I like doing it.

Meb’s book was a fun read. Especially for a plane ride. Some of his insights seemed a bit obvious, especially at first, but hearing how he’d change his approach to each race depending on his goals and physical condition really caught my interest, along with his strategy for each race itself.

Here’s what else I’ve read so far this summer:

📔 More Than Words by Jill Santopolo – I liked it! I found it really easy to empathize with each character.

📗 Normal People by Sally Rooney – Getting a lot of hype right now, but I liked it for similar reasons as More Than Words.

📓 Savage Feast by Boris Fishman – This one kind of dragged a bit. Had a hard time seeing why the author found certain stories important.

📒 Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport – Good ideas in here, but I think his outsider status as a social media nonuser didn’t come with the credibility he assumed.

📘 Territory of Light by Yuko Tsushima – As simple and delicate as its cover indicates.

📕 Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton – An action movie in novel form, though some middle parts did drag. But I loved the setting of Australia’s seedy underbelly.

📘 The Nocilla Experience by Agustin Vello Fernandez – I read this in one sitting but that’s not necessarily a compliment. I’m a sucker for intertwining storylines that start off worlds apart, but this never really tied them together in a way that made sense.

FAITH & ENVIRONMENTALISM

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One thing we’ve heard a lot about the podcast since it launched is that a lot of people appreciate the fact that we talk about faith and fighting climate change in equal droves. ⠀⠀
I appreciate hearing that! And at the same time, I wish it weren’t such an unusual combo. There’s no good reason why it should be. In fact, the further I look into it, spiritual growth and sustainability go hand in hand.

Here are a few things I wish were more common knowledge.

⛪️ If you believe in a Creator then placing a high value on creation just makes sense. The first role given to humans is to be protectors and servants of the earth and at no point does that get called off.

🌵 If you think the way our culture paints environmentalism and religion in opposition to each other is kinda dumb, you aren’t alone. You really, really aren’t alone. @plantwpurpose is a great org that approaches creation care from a faith standpoint, but it definitely isn’t the only one. There way more people out there who believe faith and sustainability go together than it often seems.

🇺🇸 In fact, the hesitancy that believers have towards environmental care is a mostly American perspective. One of the things that I appreciate about getting to work with people from several countries is seeing how in most other places, these lines of separation don’t exist.

🌎 If your faith compels you to love the poor and to serve the least of these, then promoting better environmental practices is one of the most effective ways to do so.









IT’S A BOY!

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Who was thinking boy???

According to my Instagram survey, only 22% of you were. And I think Beignet was hoping for another girl. Or another puppy.

But we’re thrilled! See you in 3.5 months little man. We’ll keep in touch via morse code on mama’s belly til then.


Philippe Lazaro