Last Updated on Friday, 21 October 2011 11:27 Written by Donna Karan Friday, 7 October 2011 05:34
What a profound evening! Last night’s premiere of The Way, a screening that benefitted the Walkabout Foundation, is in essence, a story of connecting the dots between family, friends, and finding the light in even the darkest challenges we face. It captured the deeply relevant theme of birth and death, which resonated with me an a very personal level.
Beautifully written and directed by Emilio Estevez, the film is based on the true story of Tom, an “American doctor (played by Martin Sheen) who comes to St. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his adult son (played by Emilio Estevez), killed in the Pyrenees in a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James. Rather than return home, Tom decides to embark on the historical pilgrimage to honor his son’s desire to finish the journey.”
The film itself was incredible, but the experience of the evening was deepened by the fact that dots weren’t just connecting on screen. Former President Bill Clinton attended the event as well, and I was inspired to learn that he had and Tom had gone to school together. It was fascinating to witness both the journey of the story on screen and to learn about the real-life journeys and connections of the people in the room.
It was a very, very moving evening for me because it was about looking for – and finding – that spiritual “ah-ha” moment. For me, it was a powerful reminder of how remarkable the human experience truly is.Learn More
Amplifying Inspiration at the Annual CGI Meeting
Last Updated on Tuesday, 1 November 2011 12:12 Written by Donna Karan Friday, 23 September 2011 05:35
From the very beginning, The Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting has fueled my inspiration at Urban Zen – it’s where a global community comes together to connect, collaborate and commit to creating change – everything I believe in. There is nothing more important. We are in a time of historic change and everyone needs to come together so that we can support each other.
The opportunity to gather with so many amazing people, sharing thoughts and coming up with solutions is a gift. A perfect example of this is the meeting I had with the Grief team that I originally met in Haiti. Not only did Grief come to the table, they came with solutions.
I loved seeing Francine LeFrak who is committed to putting a human face on important social issues. Francine has been my friend since high school and it’s always such a joy to see her and catch up with the extraordinary projects she’s working on. Seeing her at CGI was a brilliant opportunity to reconnect the dots all over again.
I have to say I am so thankful for my biggest connection of all, the woman who got me involved with CGI: Barbra Streisand. She introduced me to CGI and because of her I’ve been a member for five years.
This year, CGI focused on pressing topics like the advancement of women and girls, job creation and environmental solutions – issues that I have been emmersed in through my work in Haiti and my commitment to creating jobs in Haitian artisan communities. Last year we talked about Hope, Help & Relief Haiti. This year, the focus is on rebuilding Haiti. If not for the Clinton team, I could not have been as effective in my work in Haiti. Greg Milne and Laura Graham have been invaluable to me and nothing would be possible without my team and friends on the ground in Haiti.
The focus on Haiti became brilliantly clear on Tuesday evening when I had the great privilege of hosting President Martelly, President Kagame and Dr. Paul Farmer at Urban Zen Center to share that Haiti is open for business and ready to rebuild. I invite you to read the whole story here.
To say this week was a crazy week is a serious understatement. I was like a child in an amusement park, wanting to go on every single ride without enough time to do so. The experience left me in total awe of Bill Clinton, the man who holds it all together. From his opening speech to his closing remarks – he continued to ground everyone with the base-line understanding of why we were there: to be an answer to the world’s most pressing problems.
I am leaving CGI with incredible motivation, amplified inspiration, a host of new supportive connections and a refocused commitment to raising awareness and inspiring change.
Photo Credit: Taylor Davidson, Todd France, Paul Morse, Adam Schultz, Juliana ThomasLearn More
Haiti: Open For Business
Last Updated on Friday, 21 October 2011 11:30 Written by Donna Karan Wednesday, 21 September 2011 02:46
New York City is a bustling hive of global activity this week as the UN General Assembly has gathered and the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting is in session. I was honored to open the doors of the Urban Zen center to welcome many of these of leaders, including Haiti’s President Martelly and Rwanda’s President Kagame as our guests last night at Urban Zen, for a celebration of Dr. Paul Farmer’s book, “Haiti: After the Earthquake.”
It was a very special evening that allowed for Haiti to come into the spotlight, highlighting it’s growth, development and potential for business – issues that I have come to support and believe in with great passion. It made my heart soar to see President Martelly take the stage to reintroduce Haiti to the global community saying, “Come to Haiti and recognize the strength and wealth that we have. I welcome you to come and visit. Haiti is now open for business – don’t see me as the president of Haiti, see me as your partner.”
With every visit to Haiti and every new, creative Haitian I meet, I become increasingly convinced of the possibility and potential of Haiti and believe that the marriage of philanthropy and commerce will serve as the solution for rebuilding this country. Last night truly exemplified everything we have been striving for with our Hope, Help & Rebuild Haiti mission. In fact, Dr. Paul Farmer said it best when he said, “If you want to help Haiti, create jobs. Relief is behind us, rebuilding is ahead.”
I was enormously grateful when President Martelly shared with me that, “Urban Zen feels like a Haitian home.” Haiti captured my heart in the first moment I experienced the vibrant country, so recreating a small piece of Haiti’s essence at Urban Zen is a great honor for me.
Special thanks to Dr. Paul Farmer, President Martelly, President Kagame, Michelle Jean, Wyclef Jean, Philippe Dodard, Partners in Health and my Urban Zen team for making the evening a success.Learn More