Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Christmas Classics of Generation X

There is a whole set of Christmas Classics that Generation X remembers watching in their growing up years....

We got this keepsake set a few years back that includes the holiday specials along with the music that goes with them.  It's the time of year to take this out again.

Images I remember from my Generation X childhood....

This is the 50th anniversary of Rudolph and the US Postal Service is issuing stamps with the characters from the holiday special.  Hallmark is selling 'itty bittys' which are small, stuffed figurines of the characters and they will donate $1 to Toys for Tots for each one you buy. 

This set includes Rudolph, the Frosty the Snowman set, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, The Little Drummer Boy, and one I'd never seen before getting this box set: Cricket on the Hearth.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and a Couple of Things I'm Thankful For

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving initially aired in 1973, so Generation X remembers watching this each November during our growing up years...

One of the biggest things I am thankful for right now is all the people who have visited my blog this year for the first time, and I'm just as thankful for those who have come back for the hundredth time.

Thanks for stopping by.  Thanks for being here.  

These DVDs get pulled out every year when in the fall and winter for my family and I to enjoy. There's something about this time of the year when it comes to the pop culture of the formative years of Generation X - the movies and specials, the characters we grew to love, and everything else.

Thank you fellow Xers, for sharing this time of the year with me - those of you I'll be seeing in person and for those who I'll be connected with online.

2014 is coming to a close very soon, and I have much for which to be very, very thankful.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Fall of the Berlin Wall - 25 Years Ago Today

25 years ago today was when The Berlin Wall fell.  The falling of the wall was one of the biggest international events, if not the biggest event, to happen during the formative years of Generation X. 

I had always wanted a piece of the wall of my own.

Having grown up Generation X, we saw pretty much everything crumble around us, from what we watched on the news, to our families and society in general.   It was an era where a lot went wrong. That is why I clung to God throughout my childhood - everything fell apart around me and it was clear that nothing was going to be consistent.  I took that faith into my adulthood as I've struggled with the larger questions like:

1) Is God really there?
2) If so, does he listen to our prayers?
3) If so, does he listen to me?

From the third question came this thing that I do every so often: I pray a prayer that would be mathematically impossible (or the odds would be astronomical) for these things to randomly come true - only possible for it to be answered by God himself.  In other words, I ask for something incredibly detailed, profoundly specific, and uber random so that I know that that if the prayer gets answered it is not just a coincidence but really God.

Since my connection to my generation is very important to me, and since the fall of the Wall was so important to the experience of my generation, this was my prayer that I prayed a few years ago:

"I would like you to give me my own piece of the Berlin Wall.  I'd like it to be given to me by someone who was there right when (or soon after) the wall fell who chiseled it out themselves.  I would like that person to be a Gen Xer. I would like them to bring a large piece with them to my house, and then break off a smaller piece for me to keep so that I can see the larger piece it comes from and so I know it is 100% authentic.  I'd like this all to happen right before the 25th anniversary of the falling of the wall."

Right as I was about to move away from Portland Oregon last spring, some friends came over to visit. One of my friends told me she had a gift for me - it was a poster she had bought on the street in Berlin shortly after the wall fell.  She had kept it all those years in storage in her Portland house.  She also had brought a piece of the wall to show me, and all the sudden she unexpectedly felt the inspiration to break off a piece of her piece to give to me.  She borrowed a hammer, took her piece to the floor of my garage and broke off a piece for me.

I was in shock - the prayer had been answered down to every detail.  I grabbed my camera and took photos of the poster, the hammer, my piece of the wall...

What I learned from this experience:

1) We are all connected to something much larger to ourselves in a way much more substantial and tangible than we can imagine.
2) While we struggle with how much our prayers are heard and why some do not seem to get answered, prayers do get answered.
3) We are loved far, far beyond what we could possibly imagine.

The dust from the Berlin Wall sits in the seams in the cement of the garage in my old house in Portland Oregon, because there was a moment in space and time when the whole universe bent down and bowed before me so something extraordinary could happen.

The most consistent thing to happen in our lives - the lives of Generation X - was a constant crumbling of everything around us, and the biggest international event to happen in our formative years was the crumbling of a giant monolithic wall.  May all the walls of our lives fall - every wall that keeps us from something good - every wall that keeps us isolated, every wall that keeps us believing that our prayers go unheard...  

...our prayers are heard. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Mysterious Cycle in Human Events

"There is a mysterious cycle in human events.  To some generations much is given.  Of other generations much is expected..."


For the record, I'd just like to say that Generation X is one of those generations of which much has been expected.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Harmony for Humanity

This week my family and I attended Harmony for Humanity at Stanford's Memorial Church - a musical tribute that is part of an international network of concerts to honor the memory of Daniel Pearl - a Generation X journalist with both Israeli and American citizenship who was slain in 2002. Daniel attended Stanford as a young man and each year a musical tribute is held here by students and faculty.  The tribute also takes place each year on the same day in other places around the world.

It was the strangest thing on our way there, it felt like it was the first day Autumn had finally come to to that part of Bay Area.  It was as if the wind and leaves and sky were paying a tribute to Daniel's memory that evening.  Daniel was a perfect example of one of the best assets of the collective personality of Generation X - respect and understanding for other cultures.

Rabbi Patricia Karlin-Neumann gave a beautiful and comforting sermon about the night.  She mentioned how the annual musical tribute for him always happens in the Fall since that was the time of year Danny was born, and she talked about the Festival of Sukkot in which we found ourselves - a time of year to focus on what matters most - community, charity, being open to the world around us.  Sukkots were the temporary and fragile shelters, the tents, that the Hebrews lived in during their sojourn in the desert.  She spoke of how there is a certain vulnerability in these structures - that if we exist in structures like these, both literally and figuratively, others can easily enter them.  If we live figuratively in vulnerable structures like this we are more open to the world.  It is our vulnerability that connects us to everything and everyone around us.

Daniel's sister Michelle exudes a sweetness that can be felt across the room.  She spoke a few words as well and said that she finds herself amazed at the beauty she sees that comes from humanity, which made me start to cry.

Dusk had turned the sky into the richest blue, and while waiting for the doors to open, we lined up quietly among the people paying tribute.  I wore all black to mourn the loss, I dressed my daughter in bright colors to celebrate rebirth into a better place.

We listened reverently to the sounds of the string quartet as the music of Bach carried up toward the glass ceiling.  We looked up at at icons of history, especially those honoring Jewish tradition.  The mosaic images of the four archangels leaned down over us, watching over human history as generations come and depart, as we try to leave the world a better place than how we found it.  

The Daniel Pearl Foundation promotes mutual respect and understanding 
among diverse cultures through journalism, music and dialogue.  

(c) 2014 writing and photography by Chloe Koffas 

Friday, October 10, 2014

When Poetry Creates Pixels

Light From a Pixel

Entering this space, a universe of a billion pixels connecting to a billion more,
An ellipsis so I can find the omission.

The not found places of the human heart no longer drowned by all the noise on the outside.

Moving through time,
the dark freeways that took us to this place,

Here's our exit: there was a reason for it all.

The sun will rise like the day you were born,
moving across the cold asphalt that you felt would take you nowhere,
it becomes holy ground.

When I was a kid, I would think forward in time and I would think about what it would be like to be alive past the turn of the millennium and into the decades that would follow.  I always knew that someday, when the day 1/11/2011 came, something extraordinary would begin in my life and that it would be part of something much larger than just my own life.  What ended up happening that day, is that I wrote down the very first words of this blog, and those words manifested themselves as the poetry above.

This blog is a journey of a quintessential Gen Xer who has been looking to find some answers - who started getting tired of being angry and has been working on getting un-angry.  It seems to be working (mostly).  The more truth I speak, the less angry I feel.  I have always been a person full of extraordinary hope, even as I work to pull myself out of the fatalism that tries to swallow it all up.

This blog is a journey of looking for some kind of redemption of our collective story, for myself, and for all of us who were born at a time and place when society deemed us 'throwaways'.  We were the children during the largest and longest anti-child zeitgeist in modern history, yet we are the ones who did all the dirty work for minimum wage in our adolescence and twenties, and now were are the ones who quietly and sacrificially give back to society what we wish could have been given to us.  I am constantly in awe of my fellow Gen Xers and I have a heart for my generation - for all they have been through.

I am grateful for all the people this blog has brought into my life, I am grateful for the way this blog has brought people back into my life.  I am grateful for how this blog has been a catalyst for so many miracles in  my life, and I know there are many more yet to come.  Thank you to those who have come with me on this journey. Thank you, fellow Gen Xers, for the light you have shown me so that I can gather it up, put it into words and throw it out into the world in the form of pixels.

(c) 2014 writing/poetry and photo by Chloe Koffas - all rights reserved

Monday, September 8, 2014

School House Rock and Creamsicle Floats

I watched the School House Rock special on ABC with my family on Sunday night while we sipped homemade creamsicle-flavored floats.  They did a countdown of the most beloved songs from School House Rock, and Conjunction Junction made Number 1. 

I watched my daughter as she enjoyed the songs and clips, happily sipping her soda float, and thought of how how much education has improved for her generation's benefit.  A couple of quotes have been on my mind lately from the book, 13th Gen by Neil Howe and Bill Strauss....

 "As with so much else in their lives, 13er (Gen Xer) schooling fell into the Boomer backwash.  In the 1950s and early '60s, Boomers attended schools that may have been the best in U.S. history.

"Then in the 1980s, the first 13ers (Gen Xers) ...started graduating from college, the 1983 Nation at Risk report marked the end of the reform era that had spanned their entire school careers.  As the cutting edge of educational philosophy suddenly swung back the other way, the college classes of the middle '80s became the target of a searing academic whiplash.  Ever since elementary school, they (Xers) had constantly been told there weren't any standards, that they were doing well, and that they had to listen to their feelings.  Now, after all those years, they heard that there had indeed been standards, that they had failed to meet them, and that no one much cared how they cared about that failure."

School House Rock, however, was one very bright spot on the timeline of the education of Generation X.  We could turn on the TV on Saturday morning to learn a science or grammar lesson with a fun song and cartoon short to go with it.

This is what is so interesting about looking at the Generation X experience throughout our growing up years: the big picture of the pop culture that influenced us and the collective experience that formed us is bittersweet.  One moment, I am remembering the sweetness of holding the stick of a frozen Creamsicle on a hot summer day in my youth, the next moment I am remembering once again about how my generation got the short end of the stick.  

As a Gen Xer, it has made me angry when I've looked at how much experimenting in education happened during the formative years of Generation X, especially because there was already too much experimenting going on in society with our lives as it was.  The only consolation I have about all this is that some of that "reform" and experimentation came from a good place.  Educational theorists and school administrators could see that things were going horribly wrong in society and their hope was that a different kind of education could better shape the youngest generation at that time - Generation X.  This was because they hoped that we, as a generation, could be the ones who would eventually save society, or at least leave the world better than how we found it.

I think we will.   


I am always looking for ways to revive the well-loved food of the growing up years of Generation X.  This is how I like to enjoy a somewhat healthier version of the beloved Creamsicles of our youth....

Chloe's creamsicle-flavored soda floats:

Izze Soda (Sparkling Clementine flavor)
Homemade vanilla ice cream - (I use a Cuisinart ice cream maker
so I can just pour in cream, stevia and vanilla to taste and let it get
firm which should take about 20 minutes)
Put a couple dollops of the ice cream into each glass, pour over
the soda and watch it fizz!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sidewalks and Highways

Evergreens towered over me protectively, listening to the stories I told to the new people I met during the decade of my life that was spent in Portland, Oregon.  Those new acquaintances became friends, then good friends, then sometimes they also became family.

Always in my dreams will be the cloudy skies of Portland. One last glimpse of the city before flying away was almost too much as I moved from Oregon to California.  I will always love this city.  

I feel like time and space are different than they used to be when I was younger - that when I leave a place, I don't have to wonder how people have grown up or grown old, I can see it happen through pictures scrolling down my screen.

It's amazing the way we can all stay connected now.

Even still though,

it always hurts to leave a place you love behind.  

I will miss the way overcast skies would reflect on the water.  I will miss the freeway and train route than runs between Portland and Seattle.

 I will miss the way the fields looked in summer on the side of Highway 26 on the way to the coast.

Generation X is known as a nomadic generation.  For so many reasons, we are a generation that, for the most part, has moved around a lot in our childhoods, and in our adult-hoods, too.  We are familiar with the sidewalks and highways that have taken us from the places we love.

When I think of moving, I get that rush in my veins - the sad emptiness, the rush of wanderlust about to be fulfilled, the tiredness, the hunger for life, a certain grieving, and the hope of beginning again.  

When I came to Oregon as a 26 year old, I was still more or less an adolescent.  A little more than a decade later, I have left here as an adult.  I feel as if I know a thousand times more of life and the human situation, and God, and forgiveness, and our connection to one another than I knew before.

I feel that I learned and experienced everything I was supposed to while I was here.  Moving to a new place can be a deep spiritual journey - a chance to be in the "in-between" for a while where you are becoming detached from all that you are leaving behind and not yet attached to what lies ahead.

We go from place to place, knowing, even
if unconsciously, that there is some ultimate place for us that has a good part of each of the places we have been.

Sometimes I get a glimpse of that place beyond for a fleeting moment, and I realize that all of this is just a foreshadowing - just a preparation for that place - a long, fluid road toward a final destination.  To find yourself surrounded once again by everything you had to leave behind and everyone you loved that you had to let go of is what we were meant for.  And that may be why we have to let things go - so we can have them permanently - to let go of what is fleeting so we can have what is eternal.  You cannot tell me that I was put on this planet only to suffer and grieve and let go of so much for nothing.  I believe everything that was ever taken from me will be given back - only it will all be a thousand times better.  

I will remember walking on the streets of Portland in late spring when blossoms would fall at my feet.

I will remember the way the red leaves fell and the green grass would stretch out their hands to gently catch them.  

I will remember the way the stones dotted the shore, the cold winds coming down off the fog on the mountains, and searching for peace as I looked out on the water.  Resonating somewhere endlessly in my consciousness is the sand on the Oregon coast where I stood with my toes in the lapping water.

The very fabric of the universe gently pushed me forward to tell me that it was time to leave, and I came to a very Frostonian place. While I wanted to keep walking in the same direction, it was time to take a different one.  We find ourselves at that diverging path, and can't help but sometimes doubt ourselves or wonder what the other path would've been like, because we are human.

Yet, if we look for it, and even sometimes when we don't, we are given these signposts, these places that show us when we are going in the right direction. It's the way sparkling lights come on in the distance when you are driving on a freeway at night so that you know you are not far from the next city.  These lights, this flickering hope, is there so that you know the journey is not just one endless route.  This hope happens when a billion rays of sunlight reflect from a billion pieces of sand and I would see it on the shores of the Oregon Coast.  

In the years that I lived in that beautiful place, and in the years I have been given in this life, I have tried to point my face toward sun while it was shining, and feel everything and not miss anything.  I tried to stand under the clouds without my umbrella and feel the raindrops dot my face, so as not to miss even the way that felt, even when it was cold, because it was real.  I left this place changed as I should be - as if the soft rain that fell on me for ten years was a sort of ongoing baptism. I feel so much less angst, so much less anger, so much more ready to forgive.  I feel that the burden that I carry in my mind and heart is so much lighter - I must have buried it somewhere in the Oregon soil.  

"Whether you turn to the right or the left your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, 'this is the way, walk in it'...The moon will shine like the sun and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days..."  -

     - from Isaiah 30  

All photos above of my years in Oregon
 (c) 2014 writing and photography by Chloe Koffas - all rights reserved

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rainbow Connection

For a short time, I lived in a small town in New Mexico where pink sunsets splashed across the sky over cattle ranches and tumbleweeds sometimes blew down Main Street.  There was a certain Saturday afternoon in those days I found myself at an all girls' second grade roller-skating birthday party.  All of us had chatted about the latest events at our elementary school while tanking up on soda from the snack bar. We had skated around the rink several times laughing and talking when I glanced across the sea of skaters and couldn't believe my was him.  He had noticed me, too.  I had a crush on a blond haired boy from school who I'd cheer for during playground baseball games.  He would write me sweet notes and have his friends hand them off to me during recess.  It was a very innocent relationship - no hand-holding, but there were always plenty of shy smiles exchanged between us.

That day at the rink, everyone had rented those classic brown roller skates with orange wheels.  There was all the quintessential music of the early 1980s playing across the giant speakers by Blondie, Air Supply, Tom Petty, Rick Springfield and anyone else you can think of.  There were squares of  light scattered across the floor from the mirror ball during the slower songs, and there was the smell of fresh, hot popcorn wafting through the air.

Life was perfect that day.  I remember giving the birthday girl a set of multi-colored plastic heart shaped bracelets.   It was the early 80s southwest oil boom and our little town was making bank on it.  We could not have known that the economy would force most of to move away over the next year and that most of us would never see each other again.  We were just a bunch of middle-class kids skating to our favorite music, proud to give our friend nice birthday gifts, and thinking those days of prosperity would go on forever.

I was shocked that the blond haired boy I had a crush on was at the roller rink that day - I thought it was fate that we were both bought there together unexpectedly.  He was there with his friends and I was there with mine.   During one of the couples' skate songs our friends insisted that he and I should skate together.  It was the first time I'd felt the exhilaration of liking someone that liked me back, and just being near him filled me with electricity.  You could say that it was my first dance.  The song he and I couple-skated to was "Rainbow Connection" from the Muppet Movie from 1979.

Months went by, and the oil boom came to an end along with a lot of my friend's parents' jobs.  The boy's father worked in the oil fields which meant their family had to leave town for a new job.  When it was the day before Christmas break, the boy wrote me a note to tell me he was moving to L.A. He finished the note by telling me that he loved me. And before I could even respond, he was gone.  I clutched the note next to my heart as I walked home in the freezing winter air after school that day.  I held onto that note for years.  I was convinced that if I was out on a freeway somewhere, or at some airport somewhere in the Southwest at just the right time, I would see him again.  I believed that if fate had brought us together at the roller rink on a Saturday afternoon, it could bring us together again somewhere else - maybe a bus or train station, or maybe some other place where people put quarters in lockers for keys...

For the next couple of years I looked for him everywhere.  On the open freeways of New Mexico at dusk when lights on the horizon were just starting to come on, I would sing the Rainbow Connection song, even if just in my mind, and I would think of him.  Soon, that song not only held within it all the exhilarated emotion of the moments that I had with him as we had couple-skated, but also all the sadness of missing him and not knowing how to get him back.   I looked for him in cafes on Route 66,  I looked for him in airport terminals.

In those days, the most excruciating loneliness of my childhood was when I would fly by myself on a plane over the southwest between my mother's house and my father's house. On those flights, the realization would come over me as as a nine year old that when my parents divorced three years before, I no longer truly had a home or family.  On those flights, somewhere about where the time zone changes between New Mexico and Texas, the reality would set in that I was disconnected, a nomad, an unwanted step-child, only allowed to see my father for a few days a year, maybe because that way it would seem more like I didn't exist.  I was the walking collateral damage of a dissolved relationship.  Out of intense loneliness I would look for the blond haired boy every time I was on a plane to go anywhere, especially if it was a plane with its final destination planned for LA where he had moved away to.  On those long and lonely plane trips, when another plane would fly alongside us, I would try and  look in the windows for him, even if my eyes were full of tears, all the while softly singing the Rainbow Connection song.    For many years, I kept looking.  Of course, I never saw him again.

. . . . . . . . . . 

In my life, I have often thought back to that blond haired boy who had said he loved me without even giving me the chance to say it back, which made is so much more real - there were no strings attached.   He said those words without expecting anything in return.  That is the kind of love we search for in this life and don't exactly find.  We often look in this life for a sort of perfect love, only to realize the limits and shortcomings of human beings mean that pain in relationships is inevitable, and even in the best of situations we seem to only get glimpses of perfect love.  If only we could find perfect love in this life - and not just a taste of it, but all the fullness of it - love that has no expectations, love that is completely unconditional, and even more importantly, love that never leaves us.  It often seems to me that this perfect love will only be fully experienced by us when we cross over to that other place.   What I was really looking for when I was searching for that boy on highways and in airports was perfect love. What I was looking for was God.

Curving around the freeways on a trip to LA recently, I looked up at the incoming planes ready for their decent on the runway of LAX.   It was night and the lights on the planes flickered as they neatly lined up in the sky heading toward the airport.  It seemed all in one moment that the universe was infinite and and incomprehensible, yet finite enough to make it possible to find what we are looking for.  For a second I thought of that blond haired boy, now a man, and wondered if he was on one of those planes - maybe he was flying home to a wife and three kids.  Maybe life had been kind to him.  Maybe it had not. The sun had descended on the west coast, and I unexpectedly felt this overwhelming peace and hope - hope that I will find again everyone I ever loved and lost, if not on this side of life, then in the next.

Rainbow Connection - From the Muppet Movie 1979:

(c) 2014 by Chloe Koffas - all rights reserved

Monday, June 9, 2014

Graced With Light

Grace Cathedral
San Francisco, California....

I took this photo recently when I walked with a friend through Grace Episcopal Cathedral.  This is only one part of a larger art display that incorporates a synthesis of the senses including beautiful music along with video and light projected on the ceilings.  This piece, called Graced With Light, was created by artist Anne Patterson, who also happens to be Gen X.  She used approximately 20 miles of ribbon to flow down from the vaulted ceiling.  It is a a sort of metaphor of the communication between heaven and earth - prayers flowing upward, grace flowing down. On a day when I had a lot of prayers to send up, standing under these ribbons made me feel significant grace.  And through these ribbons, the fourth set of lights from the front look a bit like a hovering angel.


(c) 2014 writing and photography by Chloe Koffas

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Traits of Generation X

A friend of mine created this brilliant piece of art.  I gave her a rough sketch of what I was hoping for, and she came back with something even cooler.  This piece is a sort of cross section of  the words that you will come across as you read about or hear about Generation X from books, blogs, or other media.   

I took photos of the piece from several different angles....

I took a lot of the words that have been bouncing around inside my head that I have run across as I have read about Gen X and gave them to the Gen X artist who created this piece. While not every word will describe every Gen Xer, many of these words describe a sort of collective personality that we have.

You can sort of connect the dots as you look at this description, so to speak - being latchkey kids made us independent, being misunderstood made us cynical.   

"Whatever" seems to be a word we are well known for saying a lot, so I gave her the list with whatever as the last word.  

"...fatalistic...hates fakeness...ill-defined...philosophical..."
While there are more words than this that can describe us, these are some of the more common ones you'll see.   

We were called slackers in our youth, but we don't hear that as much anymore - maybe because all the sudden people realized we were the ones doing all the hard work and being responsible?  I still use 'slacker' as a term of endearment for certain of my beloved Gen X friends.  

Thank you, Heidi for the work you put into this.   You are the perfect example of many of the words in this list: adaptable, creative, aesthetic, resourceful....

Art by: Heidi R.K.T.

For more samples of Heidi's art:

(c) 2014 - writing and photography by Chloe Koffas

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Deep Under Our Feet

"Deep under our feet Earth holds its molten breath, while the bones of
countless generations watch us and wait."

- Isaac Marion

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Generation X Film in Progress

A while back I wrote about Xingularity, a film currently being created about Generation X.  I initially found out about it after being emailed about the project by Manny Merchan, the director and producer.  Work on this independent film continues, and this is one of the most powerful teasers for the film:

If the above image isn't visible to you, click this link:

The first time I saw the above clip, there were tears falling on the space bar of my keyboard.  For Gen Xers out there who were not believed when you tried to tell your story, these statistics can help tell the story for you.  For  Gen Xers no longer living, these statistics can speak some truth on their behalf.

The statistics below are the ones in the short clip which make a clear statement about the growing up years of Generation X.  These statistics should give a serious dose of empathy and respect for the people that are called Generation X - kids who grew up in the 1970s/1980s:

  • The number of daycare centers doubled
  • In 1982, there were more than 7 million latchkey kids
  • The average American father in the 1980s spent 37 seconds a day in direct dialogue with his kids
  • The average mother spent less than 10 minutes talking to her preschooler
  • In 1985, there were more than 2 million cases of child abuse and neglect, a 300 percent increase over 1976
  • Each year 40,000 children were hospitalized because of injuries from parents and caregivers
  • During the 1970s, the age group that suffered the largest increase in homicide were those between one and four year of age 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

On White Picket Fences, Fences Painted Purple, and Fences Never Painted at All

"In the 1950s kids lost their innocence. 
They were liberated from their parents by well-paying jobs, cars, and lyrics in music that gave rise to a new term -- the generation gap. 

In the 1960s, kids lost their authority. 
It was a decade of protest---church, state, and parents were all called into question and found wanting.  Their authority was rejected, yet nothing ever replaced it.

In the 1970s, kids lost their love.  
It was the decade of me-ism dominated by hyphenated words beginning with self.  Self-image, Self-esteem, Self-assertion...It made for a lonely world.  Kids learned everything there was to know about sex and forgot everything there was to know about love, and no one had the nerve to tell them there was a difference.

In the 1980s, kids lost their hope.
Stripped of innocence, authority and love and plagued by the horror of a nuclear nightmare, large and growing numbers of this generation stopped believing in the future...."

- Ravi Zacharias

The quote above is powerful - it explains how the stage was set for the Generation X childhood.  It also says a lot about why our childhoods were such a struggle.  Many Gen Xers remember the painful years of being raised (or not being raised) by adults who bought into the 1970s zeitgeist of all-encompassing narcissism.  Sadly, much of that selfishness went far beyond the 1970s, and a lot of us were left to fend for ourselves.  That 'lonely world' in this quote would be the perfect way to describe many of our childhoods.  No wonder we clung to our cartoons, our toys, and our friends.


For the full Ravi Zacharias quote, click here: kids of the decades quote
All photos by Chloe (c) 2014 - southeast Portland, OR  

Friday, February 21, 2014

Twice Cleansed

This is an interview with an extraordinary person who is works hard and fights hard to help vulnerable people all over the world as the director of an organization that takes a stand for human rights....

Tell us about the Twice Cleansed Organization.

Twice Cleansed is "Soap with a Story" - the story of how individuals and business together participate in the fight against sex-trafficking; the story of how jobs become a preventative measure to trafficking vulnerable people; and the story of people's lives being changed as a result.  Twice Cleansed is unique in its role because there are few organizations that are tackling the employment and poverty aspects of human trafficking.  Trafficking is a supply and demand business.  We have to address the reasons why a parent feels the need to sell their child or why a victim chooses to go "back to work" for their pimp.  Our goal is to provide jobs to those who are vulnerable and dedicate profits to organizations that are already providing rehabilitation, education, and safe houses to those who are survivors of this horrible injustice.

Tell us about yourself and what you do for the Twice Cleansed Organization.

My name is Tiffany and I work as the general manager of Twice Cleansed.  I take care of organizing events, fundraising, selling soap, managing social media and marketing, and partnering with other organizations in this fight. 

How did you first get involved with Twice Cleansed? 

About 3 years ago I was sitting in church and a video played about the injustice of human trafficking.  I was brought to tears just thinking about how a father could sell his own daughter into sex slavery.  Having such an amazing relationship with my own father, I could not fathom that someone could be so desperate to sell their own flesh and blood.  Feeling very convicted to do something, I reached out to the president of Twice Cleansed.  I began volunteering at their soap sales and they provided me with many opportunities to get trained and educated about the growing industry of human trafficking.

What would you like the world to know about Twice Cleansed?

Participation in this heroic battle against evil is accessible in the lives of one family at a time; impact one generation at a time; and change one community at a time, all in time.  Working with skin care for a long time, I always have taken an informed role about what I put on my skin.  I was so happy when I found out about Twice Cleansed, not only because of the amazing cause that it supports, but because the product itself is an amazing one!  Our skin is our largest organ, what we put on it absorbs directly into our bloodstream within 26 seconds.  This Organic Olive Oil Soap sold by Twice Cleansed has only 3 ingredients: Olive Oil, Water, Sodium Hydroxide.  There is something very unique about a company that can produce such a high quality product that help end human suffering.  The idea of being Twice Cleansed gets me every time I use it.  Refreshing my body while redeeming a life - a fair trade! 

It's hard for many to wrap their mind around the fact that human trafficking happens everywhere - we don't like to think that it happens in the cities where we live.  What words do you have about how we need to open our eyes to this reality?

You can choose to look the other way, but you can never say you didn't know.  I think Edmund Burke said it best, "All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."  That is why human trafficking is the second most profitable industry, after drug trafficking.  Too many people do nothing.  The reality is that this isn't just happening in Lebanon.  This is happening in Portland, Oregon.  This is happening to the 13 year old girl at Washington Square Mall, your neighbor, your sister, or your friend.  Human trafficking affects us all.  We need to have a serious talk about why we allow it.  Why do we turn our heads the other way when we see something suspicious, like we should be minding our own business?  Exploitation of women and children is our concern.  As a society we need to make it our concern.  As men, you need to make it your business to not fuel demand.  Just like any other business, if you don't have buyers, you can't sell.

Each generation has the responsibility to leave the world a better place than they found it.  What can our generation do specifically to fight against the problem of human trafficking?

Be aware.  We can start in our own homes with the products that we buy.  I challenge everyone to take the pledge to #PurchaseWith Purpose.  No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.  We can all decide that we refuse to fuel the human trafficking industry by making purchases of products that combat human trafficking instead of settling for their inferior counterparts. 
Become an advocate.  As consumers, we have a powerful and unique say on what goes.  We must choose to stand up and inform others if a company is aiding this industry with child labor or unethical work practices.
Do not remain silent.  If you see something, say something.  If you believe that you are a victim of sex trafficking and/or forced labor or slavery, or if you want to report a tip or suspicious activity, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-8888 or text "Be Free" to 233733.

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Twitter: @Twice_Cleansed
Instagram: @TwiceCleansed

I will leave you with this quote by J.K. Rowling:

"We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided."

Many thanks to Tiffany, the General Manager of Twice Cleansed, for this interview.   The year she was born makes her technically Generation Y, though she is Generation X in many ways because of the influence of Gen X pop culture in her formative years that came from an older Gen X sibling.  Being a part of a generation is partly about the history/culture/pop culture that influenced your youth, and partly about the year you came into the world. (Gen X is often considered those born 1961-1981 and Gen Y people were born through the rest of the 1980s and 1990s).  Some people in this category call themselves Generation XY.  Whether we're X, Y, or XY, if we work together, we can leave the world a better place than we found it. 

(c) 2014