FREEFALL

An online pinboard documenting those whose passions and talents compel them to life

Mac Mitchell//Jacksonville//Photostream

Mac is currently travelling around the world with The World Race and has kindly offered to share some of his favourite images with Freefall…

Granada

Granada

Granada

Guatemala

Lake Atitlan

Malaysia

Malaysia Church

Malaysia Church

Nicaragua Revival

Nicaragua

Nicaragua

Ometepe Island

Ometepe Island

Philippines: Streetmarket

Philippines: Streetmarket

Philippines: Streetmarket

Philippines

Philippines

Philippines

Philippines

Thailand

Thailand

Will Hill//Nashville//Non Profit

Will Hill

I think Will is one of those great guys that everyone loves to know and he loves to know them. I mean he even has a pair of super skinny Levi’s named after him so, yeah, I guess that sticks him somewhere on the cool-o-meter. He directs Got Your Back, a charity that provides kids in developing countries with school uniforms. They’ve recently done a bunch of stuff in Haiti and Kenya.

Anyway I actually got to know Will when in Florida and perhaps more bizarrely whilst I was in Kentucky. Got Your Back had a bustling merchandise table at a music festival that was taking place near Lexington. I was hanging out with a group of mutual friends there, staying in Wilmore, a ‘dry’ town in Jessamine County where you couldn’t purchase liquor… Unsurprisingly one of my favourite evenings was driving out to Nicholasville (a ‘wet’ town) where we were then legally able to pick up cocktails and gin at an eclectic little tapas bar.

We did arrange another dinner meet in London whilst he was en route back to the States after a uniform drop in Kenya but our curry and beer never quite happened due to a combination of my technically disabled phone and train issues. The slew of underground engineering works forbid me from travelling across town to meet my friends amidst the neon lights and waiters touting their cuisine on the trendy cobbles of Brick Lane. T’was a shame.

But, and more importantly, returning to Will and the Got Your Back Movement. At its bare bones, this 501(c)(3) is a Shirt for Shirt affair, its success based on its simplicity. Essentially you buy a t shirt, and as a result you also provide a kid in a developing country with a uniform. Easy, no? They were founded on the premise and desire to ‘restore purpose, give hope and show love’ through education support, therefore working towards sustainable change in communities across the world. I’ve added their factsheet at the end of the interview so you can get a bit more info on GYB itself and of course check out their website.

I own a vest myself. It’s great. (In fact I’m wearing it as I type). Sometimes charities create pretty awful merch in the name of making money but I can categorically tell you that I love my purchase, its sourced from American Apparel (which gets a sustainable thumbs up) and the quirky ‘Love is the Revolution’ motto emblazoned across it has already sparked a number of great conversations. But its not JUST about raising awareness. What I love about GYB is that they work closely with individuals, such as local tailors on the ground to boost community economics. The big deal is that most families across the world (80%) live on less than $10/ day and therefore the ability to send their kids to school (in a uniform) is often all but a dream. GYB works to relieve this burden and as a result more kids get educated. And that’s gonna be one of the major things that tips to change a child’s, and ultimately the next generation’s, life.

Here’s Will’s Freefall interview:

What do you do?

I do a lot of things.

I’m many things to many different people…  a designer, a musician, a thinker, an entrepreneur, an activist, a leader, a pessimist, a realist, a strategist, a marketer, a generation shaper, a visionary, a friend… you get the point. But to me, I’m just Will Hill.

For about 10 years now, I’ve been working as a freelance designer & creative consultant. I’ve worked in nearly every field of design: web, print, product/merchandise, store installations, large-scale events, art direction… pretty much anything creative. From big companies like Levi’s all the way down to scrappy upstarts, I’ve worked with & consulted for a wide variety of clients.

At my last job, I was the Creative Director for an international film company entitled the Doorpost Film Project. As their second hire, I controlled and developed their brand, as well as, oversaw all creative and marketing efforts. Under my creative direction, Doorpost’s brand grew into an international success and within a year and half was being named “One of the top 25 film festivals in the world worth the entry fee” by MovieMaker Magazine.

While my strengths have always been creatively, my heart has always been focused on social awareness and activism. Currently, I’m the Executive Director for a new non-profit organization entitled “The Got Your Back Movement”, which I helped to start. Got Your Back’s mission is to provide school uniforms to children all over the world while creating sustainable change in communities through the impact that education creates in all aspects of life.

While the idea of children’s education isn’t new, the approach that Got Your Back is taking is a somewhat of a unique one.

In many countries, school is offered for free or little charge, but in order to attend school, a child must own a school uniform. The cost of the uniform alone keeps many children from attending school. In an effort to make education possible for every child, Got Your Back provides uniforms to these children so they can begin their schooling or, in some cases, as an incentive to continue their schooling. Got Your Back is also working with local tailors whenever possible to ensure that each uniform is produced in the community they are serving, such as in our project in Lwala, Kenya.

My roles at GYB are pretty diverse. At the heart of what I’m responsible for is building a movement of people who are willing to fight for those helpless, speak for the voiceless, and are passionate about educating the next generation.

What makes you feel alive?

Feeling a real connection to the world and the people around me.

Really, I think it’s the ability to reason, to learn, to understand that makes me feel the most alive.

As a designer, I naturally pay attention to details. I love learning about the way things work, interacting with and pondering the world around me. I’m completely fascinated and overwhelmed with enormous things like the universe and the ocean, while I’m equally enthralled with the micro beauties sprinkled throughout the earth like fingerprints or ladybugs. The attention to detail, the brilliance of every unseen system at work in the world, the pure, raw beauty of the surrounding world invites me to be alive every morning and challenges me to understand it every day.

The mysteries and innumerable unanswered questions I have about the world and the people/things in it drive me to constantly pursue the answers… even if I never find them. To me, that is being alive.

Why do you do what you do?

I believe that I am on this planet for a reason. And more importantly, I believe that I was dropped into my generation for a purpose. Had I been born in any other time period, I think I would have been completely out of place. Some may argue that everything is random, but I think everything follows a very intentional plan, a destiny of sorts.

We all have a role to play and I’m still figuring out how I fit in. I believe that God has made each of us individually, gifted with unique abilities, equipped to accomplish tasks individually and as a part of humanity as a whole. Helping people is built into the fabric of my being & I am still learning how my other talents and gifts play into that.

I personally have been involved with Got Your Back from the beginning phases. I know the benefits of proper schooling firsthand and I believe that education is the vital key to breaking the poverty cycle. Knowledge is power and I believe that whatever the world will become in the next 50 years solely hinges on what we are doing now to educate and empower the next generation. This burden of providing education to every child doesn’t simply fall on my generation, but that we must empower the younger generations to reach out as well. It’s everyone’s job and there’s a lot of work to be done.

How does some of your story link into why you do what you do?

I’ve always loved puzzles and challenges. As a kid, I was passionate about solving problems. I think for me, I sort of view the world as a large puzzle, with an unknown amount of variables, unanswered questions and seemingly unsolvable problems. I think this thought alone has driven me towards a life working in humanitarian work. The world needs great problem solvers and I hope that I can be a part of the solution.

What do you view success as?

Success doesn’t always look the way you intended it to look, or feel the way you wanted it to, but it’s there. Throughout life I’ve started to realize the power of assumed failures and it’s really radically shifted my perspective on success.

Many would say that success is when you’ve accomplished something you’ve set out to do. I wouldn’t disagree with that, but I believe success is based a lot more on internal victories than outward accolades. Success to me is the realization that you’re only an instrument in the greater performing orchestra and despite any earthly outcomes, you’ve never a failure when you’re playing your part.

That being said, I think the great Henry Travers may have summed up success better when he said, “Remember, George: no man is a failure who has friends.”

So yea, it’s either my thing or Henry’s. Maybe both. Probably Henry’s.

will@gybmovement.org - Email Will

www.delcodesigns.com - Personal Design Work

www.gybmovement.org - Got Your Back Movement Official Website

www.twitter.com/delcodesigns - Twitter

Ben Jones//London// Spirituality

Ben JonesWhat do you do/ What makes you feel alive?

I am currently training to be a vicar. I feel most alive when I have a conversation with someone about God.

Why do you do what you do?

With the risk of sounding insane, I genuinely believe God wants me to do what I do …. It also helps that I love doing it!

How does some of your story link into why you do what you do?

I spent most of my younger years trying to get noticed by other people. During my first year at University a friend pointed out to me that God notices me. This made me seriously look at everything I did to try and get noticed by other people and eventually made me realise how pathetic most of the attempts were! What surprised me even more was someone else telling me that God not only noticed me but he also genuinely loved me no matter what I did. An experience of this love at a church in London blew me away and I spent the rest of my University years trying to find out more. The more I found out, the more I wanted to tell other people and 7 years later I figured I might as well get paid doing it!

What do you view success as?

Success in life is all about becoming more fully who God created you to be.

Joel Harrison//Business//London

Joel Harrison

Joel Harrison is a whisky connoisseur. He used to work in the music business doing A&R for a major record label. He still dabbles in that a little, although is now majoring on the whole alcohol deal.

We took a little jaunt to the Vinopolis in London Bridge to film a video interview, excerpts of which are below. To be totally upfront, I am completely uneducated when it comes to whisky- related matters. The term ‘ignorant’ would be perfectly apt in this situation and indeed, the Vinopolis felt like some strange utopian alcoholic B&Q when we arrived. However, I’m not quite sure that ‘fermented beverage home- depot’ would be the desired brand identity, so I apologise.

As Joel began to wax lyrical about his love for whisky it quickly became obvious he really was in his element. My personal opinion is that he should get an orange perma- tan and do a little whisky slot on daytime TV. On the train journey there he insisted on wearing a rather bizarre bright (as the midday sun) yellow so’wester. I was suitably embarrassed, although I guess if he doesn’t quite make headline beverage specialist he can always try his hand at weatherman. But until that happens he’ll be doing what he does best and excellently… spending time doing whisky tastings, drinking it himself and visiting far- flung distilleries around the world.

Check out his website for more whisky- related info:

www.caststrength.net

What is the deal with whisky?

I fell in love with whisky about 4 years ago when I was travelling around with my old job, I worked for a major record company. I would buy a lot of it in duty free… and now a few years on this has translated into doing a bit of whisky journalism, running a website, working on marketing consultancy for various distilleries, as well as hosting tasting events around the country. I am now just generally evangelical about whisky.

I am drawn to many different aspects of whisky. I love the romanticism of where it is made in almost agricultural circumstances in remote parts of Scotland, Ireland and America. I love the different varieties you get. One of the most important aspects of whisky is the way that you mature it. In Scotland for example we tend to mature it in two types of barrels…either ex- American ones that have contained bourbon, or European ones that have had red wine, sherry, port or cognac in. Aging is also a big aspect, and this can take place over 3-4 years or 40. The options are vast.

Whisky is something you can use to relax. I don’t think it is something to mix or get drunk on. Trying tiny amounts can be used to expand the palette. There is a slight kleptomaniac aspect to being a whisky connoisseur. I have this desire to try everything from every distillery at every age. With regard to collecting it, I discovered that you could buy a bottle of whisky, wait a year, sell it and make a profit. This really fuses my enjoyment of trading, collecting, amassing and being part of a community. And community is a massive part of life.

I do a lot of whisky tasting and presentations to people. This involves me being an evangelist and talking to people about whisky, its different types, whilst explaining the nuances in flavour differences. It is a great opportunity for me to get out there and chat to people about what I’m passionate about but also educate them as well.

I am passionate about meeting people and networking. I don’t think you can do anything in your life on your own, or few people can at least. It’s all about having a group around who understand you and you can understand them. Life is a jigsaw puzzle right? So its all about fitting the right pieces together to create a picture.

Geoff Talbot//Film//Los Angeles

Geoff Talbot

I met Geoff after attending a church in Los Angeles called Basiliea.

[As an aside Basileia is pastored by an awesome guy called David Ruis (who is definitely not your archetypal church leader). The church is located in Hollywood on Fountain Ave and has this amazing artistic community feel. I think this is quite a unique character given the culture of religion in modern day America where Truth is sometimes mistaken or indeed forsaken for a political allegiance rather than a palpable spiritual relationship. Indeed, something of God is infinitely tangible in the atmosphere of this place. The church also welcomes a diverse congregation; actors, addicts, bums and joe bloggs alike, something that I believe is pretty important.]

Anyway, after I visited a few of us went for a late lunch in Coffee Shop 101. We chatted a little bit about where Geoff was. He is a Kiwi in Los Angeles, and feels very much ‘called’ to be there as he pursues the medium of film. We also discussed some of his journey in getting to the city of Angels… the road took him via the UK and a job, rather surprisingly, as a veterinary surgeon.

The brilliant thing about Geoff is that he is very forthright. When its tough he calls it as such. I think this is particularly inspiring. I’ve met so many people, (myself included) who have been tempted to paper over the cracks when following a vision. He’s had some extraordinary accelerated times of what I guess he might call ‘answered prayer’, where stuff seems to happen quite coincidentally and things fall into place. But there has also been occasions where the road has been immensely tough, self sacrificial and lonely, much like experiences of anyone following a call to pursue what they feel they were made for.

Geoff writes an awesome blog called ‘Seven Sentences’. I’ve added a couple of particularly interesting posts below, do have a read, they are always insightful and pertinent.

Here are some of his Freefall answers below:

What do you do/ What makes you feel alive?

I am a writer, actor and filmmaker… in essence I love telling stories. I love creating and finding the story or the character within me. I feel alive when I write, when I act and when I work with other actors and artists to paint and shape a story that can reach a wide range of people. It’s really difficult to describe exactly why I love it so much… I just get it and I just love it. It makes sense to be and I feel like I was made to do it.

Why do you do what you do?

I do it because I feel compelled to do it. I do it because I feel alive. I do it because it’s incredibly difficult and no matter how much I learn there is always more to learn and fresh challenges to accomplish.

How does some of your story link into why you do what you do?

I grew up in a very self creative environment. No television, no play station but loads of books and lots of story reading. I believe this engaged my imagination in a powerful way from a very young age… asking to create images and stories.

What do you view success as?

Success to me is not defined by finishing scripts, doing film deals, or winning awards. Success for me is simply living the life I was made to live and doing the tasks that laid in front of me. A big part of this for me is to avoid “gaining the whole world and losing my soul.” I would want to win an Oscar but be a terrible Dad, I’d rather be a great Dad and never win an Oscar… of course both would be nice…

Website: www.geofftalbot.com

Blog Posts:

The Secret to Dancing…

A very famous modern dance teacher was once asked the secret behind her dancing. She replied, “the secret to dancing is that it’s about everything except dancing.” Do I need to explain? The moment you concentrate on “technique” you lose sight of the very reason you loved dancing in the first place. Dancing is about emotion, passion, expression… LIFE. The secret to filmmaking is that is about everything except filmmaking. The secret to acting is that it is about everything except acting. The secret to business is that it is about everything except business.

The Stone Cutter…

A Stone cutter swings away at a rock  pounding it 100 times without so much as a crack appearing in it. On his 101st  blow the rock shatters… yet  he knows it was not the 101′st blow that broke that rock but the 100 seemingly pointless, worthless blows that went before it. A friend sent me this analogy to encourage me not to give up in my film-making endeavors… but it not only applies to stone cutting or film making; you can use it to metaphor just about anything you want to achieve in life. Einstein said “I’m no more intelligent that the average man I just stay with problems for longer.”

In our world persistence is an undervalued commodity. Who know’s what blow will break that rock or which kind act or word will break open a hardened heart. The important thing is not to stop, to never give up and to keep on hammering.

Live your dream video:

http://geofftalbot.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/live-your-dream/

Twitter: www.twitter.com/geofftalbot/

Web: www.evokepictures.com