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Int'l Women's Day: Responding Creatively to the Crisis in Haiti

On Saturday, March 8, 2014 at 5pm, we invite you to an NYC premiere film screening and panel discussion spotlighting a number of amazing artists who have found ways to use their creative talents to work with the people of Haiti in ways that sustainably enrich the lives of everyone involved.

The Canadian documentary HAITI UNTOLD, directed by Isabelle Depelteau and Dan Shannon, chronicles the personal journeys of actor Sean Penn (founder of J/P Haitian Relief Organization), designers Donna Karan (DKNY, Haiti Artisan Project) and Joey Adler (Diesel Canada) and others who have put their heads and hearts to the task of affecting radical change in Haiti following the devastating earthquake of 2010.

Following the screenings, we'll circle up with Architects Magali Regis and Burtland Granvil of HIBISCUS (Haiti Initiative for Building Innovative and Sustainable Communities), and with Anna Zastrow who has worked in Haiti with Clowns Without Borders, Bond Street Theatre, and FAVILEK (Famn Viktim Leve Kanpe/Women Victims Get Up Stand Up) to learn how they have put their own creative talents to work in partnership with the people of Haiti.

They will respond to the film, take questions, update us on current conditions, and discuss some of the organizations working for the betterment of Haiti.

The event is $10. Tickets are available online. 
Seating is limited and first come, first serve.

HAITI UNTOLD provides an unusual counter point-of-view on what is really happening in the country, looking beyond the ethos of fast-food journalism, which seems at times to feed exclusively on tragedies to scandals while skipping over the stories of hope and re-building. Many of us who were moved to give generously in response to the quake, now wonder if all the donations made any difference at all. In fact, while many contributions have failed to find bear fruit, many caring individuals and communities are making a positive impact. 

Haiti Untold web site

Watch the trailer:

At Think Act Change NYC events, we focus on how we can change OUR OWN thinking so that we can realize our own limitless capacity to affect change and inspire others to do the same. 

This film makes it abundantly clear that in order to solve Haiti's humanitarian crisis, its causes must first be truly understood. As the saying goes, we won't solve the problem with the same thinking that created it. For solutions to be effective, we have to commit to working together with the Haitian people to create the infrastructure necessary to implement those solutions and sustain them.

About Panelist Anna Zastrow

Anna Zastrow is a longtime professional clown and teaching artist and a graduate of the famed Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris. She has worked with street children, trafficking victims and the economically challenged in Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Sudan. She first went to Haiti in Sept 2010 with Clowns Without Borders, training local volunteers to provide psychosocial relief through theatrical play to children in the tent camps, and creating a performance together that they presented in several of the camps.

She then launched a project with Bond Street Theatre that returned her to Haiti in Feb 2011 and Feb 2012. They worked with several local community groups, but specifically with the women's rights group FAVILEK (Famn Viktim Leve Kanpe/Women Victims Get Up Stand Up) to train them in theater techniques for psychosocial support and to create a performance about rape in the camps as a way to raise awareness and mobilize the community against gender-based violence.  They are planning to continue their engagement in Haiti in 2014-2015.

About Panelist Magali Régis, AIA, Leed AP
architect and president of HIBISCUS

Magali Régis is a New York-based architect who was born and attended primary school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, middle and high school in Rome, Italy, followed by a move to New York where she studied architecture at Pratt Institute. As a world traveler, the cosmopolitan character of New York suited her and she decided to make it her home. She has been practicing architecture for the past 25 years, working at a variety of firms, both large and small, including JGArchitects, Karl Fisher Architects, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects, Kohn Pedersen Fox Interior Architects & Meridian Design to name a few, as well as holding her own private practice, e_space design. Her experience includes historic preservation, adaptive reuse, civic buildings, public schools and colleges, high-end residential, retail, hotels and corporate interiors. Magali is also a community gardener and green space activist, working for the past 15 years to preserve New York’s communal green spaces from looming development.

Panelist Burtland Granvil is a registered architect of Haitian heritage with over 15 years professional experience both in New York and Haiti.  After the Haiti earthquake of 2010, he immediately flew down to participate in an ATC-20 Assessment Program, going door to door, inspecting buildings to determine their safety. A year later, he relocated to Port-au-Prince to work with Architecture for Humanity, focusing both on new construction and rehabilitating existing structures (mainly schools and clinics). He later joined a local construction company in Haiti as a construction manager. Burt recently returned to New York and currently works at an architectural firm in downtown Manhattan specializing in Educational Projects, who aspire to bring their expertise to Haiti.


Bond Street Theatre

Bond Street Theatre’s mission is to promote peace and mutual understanding through the arts.  The company initiates creative programming for conflict resolution and peace-building that reach women, youth, children, educators, refugees, those in prisons and shelters, and other populations in need. Bond Street Theatre creates performances that illustrate important social issues, and uses the arts to educate, inspire, and heal in areas of conflict, poverty and post-war rehabilitation. The company collaborates with local artists to enjoy the benefits of artistic exchange -- to learn, to share, and to explore commonalities and differences, and promote mutual understanding and the value of the arts in shaping a peaceful global future.  

The company has initiated innovative theatre and theatre-based programs in over 40 countries worldwide that improve leadership skills, build self-confidence, stimulate the imagination, and illustrate health and civic issues to audiences of all ages and genders. 90% of all funds go directly to our programs. Bond Street Theatre was voted a Top-Rated Non-Profit in 2012, and receives kudos from publications around the world, including the New York Times, India Times, CNN, Washington Post, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other media.

Clowns Without Borders

Clowns Without Borders offers laughter to relieve the suffering of all persons, especially children, who live in areas of crisis including refugee camps, conflict zones and territories in situations of emergency. We bring levity, contemporary clown/circus oriented performances and workshops into communities so that they can celebrate together and forget for a moment the tensions that darken their daily lives.  We also seek to raise our society’s awareness of affected populations and to promote a spirit of solidarity.

CWB recognizes that our work is made up of small moments. Although small and purely emotional, these moments build upon each other staying with children as they grow and support their incredible resilience. CWB works with relief organizations addressing psycho-social needs of those who suffer from traumatic situations. We are not doctors, psychologists or social-workers, but together with these professionals and community participation we create joyful experiences from which children and their communities thrive.


Fanm Viktim Leve Kanpe (Women Victims Get Up Stand Up) known as FAVILEK is an organization of over 80 women who were victim to political violence during the years of military dictatorship in Haiti that followed the coup d'etat of September 1991. Since 1993, FAVILEK has organized and mobilized for justice and reparations for crimes such as rape, torture, the loss of spouse, child, or parent or imprisonment suffered at the hands of the paramilitary and military. While FAVILEK is pushing forward the legal case against the former members and leaders of the paramilitary and military, it also works to reach out to other women who were victims of political violence across Haiti via their original theater piece "Ochan pou tout fanm yo bliye" (Tribute to all forgotten women). Through dialogue, monologue, movement, drumming and singing, FAVILEK members give graphic descriptions of abuses suffered under military rule, while sharing how they have struggled to come to terms with the aftermath. An especially poignant monologue tells the true-life story of a woman (performed by herself) raising a child conceived by rape. As a grassroots group of women from the poorest areas of Port au Prince, FAVILEK relies on limited resources and the medium of theater to inspire increased activism nationally and internationally to make justice a reality.

(Haiti Initiative for Building Innovative and Sustainable Communities)

HIBISCUS' mission is to initiate and develop viable, environmentally-focused projects for urban renewal and rural development in Haiti.  We are committed to addressing economic and social needs by providing innovative, sustainable, and culturally contextual solutions inspired by, in partnership with, and implemented for the benefit of Haiti and its people.

We strongly believe that we can play a crucial role in the rebuilding of Haiti. We have the skills, we have the talent, we have the know-how, and together, we can achieve this.

We are dedicated to providing a 21st century development vision that promotes the use of safe building practices and technology, efficient use of energy, preservation of the environment and management of natural resources in a manner inspired by, in partnership with and implemented for the benefit and in partnership with the Haitian people. Any effort to rebuild Haiti sustainably which does not offer the people of Haiti an alternative way of thinking about its environment is bound to fail and any effort to rebuild Haiti’s built and natural environment which does not put its citizens at the center is also bound to fail. The people component is not only paramount in rebuilding Haiti; it is indeed the foundation of such rebuilding. Clearly, environmental redemption will only occur after thorough examination of social realities which include education, economy, culture, politics , both individually and collectively.

J/P Haitian Relief Organization

J/P Haitian Relief Organization was founded by actor Sean Penn in 2010 in response to the humanitarian crisis in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. J/P Haitian Relief Organization is dedicated to saving lives and bringing sustainable programs to the Haitian people quickly and effectively. Following the tragic earthquake of 2010, J/P HRO began working immediately to make a meaningful and lasting impact in Haiti. J/P HRO programs focus on supporting the residents of the camps we manage and the surrounding areas transition from life left homeless by the earthquake to durable, sustainable and prosperous communities. J/P HRO has implemented its mission through four integrated programs: Medical, Camp & Relocations Management, Engineering & Construction, and Community Development. 

Today, J/P HRO continues to keep in step with the needs on the ground as they evolve. Programs focus on supporting the residents of the camps we manage and the surrounding communities in the ongoing post-earthquake reconstruction effort. Early on, J/P HRO became camp manager of Pétionville Camp, supporting nearly 60,000 internally displaced persons. By the end of 2013, J/P HRO will have achieved a significant milestone in the successful relocation of all remaining camp families. Our staff, which is nearly 350-strong and 95 percent Haitian, is working every day to provide health, education and community development, housing and economic opportunities.

Donna Karan and the Haiti Artisan Project

Through the Haiti Artisan Project, Donna Karan, Urban Zen, Russell James and Nomad Two Worlds have collaborated with designers, artists, photographers and videographers to present the potential of Haiti’s creativity to a wide consumer and design base both nationally and internationally. The project promotes economic development by supporting artists through a program that emphasizes the beauty of their gifts and the wisdom of their culture.

We are committed to Hope, Help and Rebuild Haiti.

"For me, Haiti is where all the initiatives I care so passionately about come together; preserving culture, securing the health and well-being for people and the education of the children who represent their tomorrow. The journey of my two worlds – design and philanthropy – picks up in Haiti. Haiti speaks to my heart. It embraces everything we seek to accomplish at Urban Zen and the vision for Haiti is simple: help Haiti help itself by utilizing and organizing its artisans, natural resources and production potential to create business models that can be properly marketed and distributed throughout the US and Europe. As an American designer and businesswoman, I have a good sense of what makes a product desirable to the western consumer. My trip to Haiti was in follow-up to a previous visit with the Clinton Foundation which focused on the opportunities for creative business development. This trip was about working with the creative communities and helping them in anyway I could. Haiti brings out every emotion you have – despair, compassion, love and hope – as well as the excitement of what’s possible with some heartfelt connection and creative collaboration.

"To read the complete blog entries from my trip to Haiti, go to: Urban Zen"

— Donna Karan, Donna's Journal

Join or login to comment.

  • Christopher P.

    Today we spotlight the efforts of a familiar friend working in Haiti — charity: water. One-third of Haitians lacked access to safe water BEFORE the January 12, 2010 earthquake. Let that sink in. Through its project Unshaken, charity: water is working to provide clean water to 30,000 residents with partners Concern Worldwide and Partners In Health (PIH). Both have more than twenty years experience working in the Central Plateau and the island of La Gonave. The organizations are largely managed by local Haitian staff who construct the projects, mobilize local communities and monitor the work on a local level.

    1 · March 7, 2014

  • Christopher P.

    Today's featured organization is THEA, The Haiti Education Alliance. THEA develops and distributes educational materials to Haitian schools, and also administers a Backyard Gardening program, which trains and enables children to plant produce gardens and to sell their surplus produce, providing much needed food and income for their families.

    March 6, 2014

    • Christopher P.

      They are now gearing up for another trip to Haiti! You can sign up to participate or to donate to support those who are going. The work of this trip includes:
      1) working with families with students in THEA's ongoing gardening training to start their own gardens,
      2) sessions in conflict resolution and church leadership,
      3) obtaining a larger room and providing material for THEA's sewing training, and
      4) implementing THEA's new child development curriculum.

      March 6, 2014

  • Christopher P.

    Thriving and economically prosperous neighborhoods are at the heart of building back a stronger Haiti. The Sean Penn founded J/P HRO’s Community Development Program is working hand in hand with local residents, community leaders and local institutions to improve educational opportunities and provide a wide range of mentoring and vocational training and community programs.

    For example, its Adolescent Girls Initiative, funded by The World Bank, engages 200 local girls in a six-month life skills and professional training course. The participants also take part in specialized training in vocational fields currently in demand in Haiti such as construction, carpentry, plumbing and masonry and go on to an internship to complete their certificate. By the end of the program, these girls will have acquired professional skills needed to join the workforce. See more at:

    March 5, 2014

  • Christopher P.

    Did you know that Haitian artisans have the reputation for making the best handcrafts in the Carribean? If, like me, you didn't, it might be in part because they haven't had much visibility. Donna Karan and Urban Zen are changing that, in a big way.

    Through the Haiti Artisan Project, Donna Karan, Urban Zen, Russell James and Nomad Two Worlds have collaborated with designers, artists, photographers and videographers to present the potential of Haiti’s creativity to a wide consumer and design base both nationally and internationally. The project promotes economic development by supporting artists through a program that emphasizes the beauty of their gifts and the wisdom of their culture.

    1 · March 4, 2014

  • Christopher P.

    Here's some background reading on Haiti reconstruction plans:

    Action Plan for the Reconstruction and National Development of Haiti [PDF]

    The Haitian government’s rebuilding plan, presented at the symposium by Leslie Voltaire, is based on the PDNA; a draft was presented at the March 28 Donor’s Conference at the United Nations, and the final plan was published on April 12, 2010.

    Lessons Learnt From Past Disasters [Powerpoint]

    The full presentation given by UN-HABITAT’s David Evans at the Rebuilding a Sustainable Haiti symposium, in Powerpoint format.

    See more at:

    March 4, 2014

  • Christopher P.

    Leading up to our Int'l Women's Day event 3/8 focusing on Haiti, we'll be recommending a great NGO each day for you to investigate and contribute to, starting off with FAVILEK — Fanm Viktim Leve Kanpe (Women Victims Get Up Stand Up), a women's advocacy group in Haiti. Started by 80 survivors of sexual and/or political violence, these determined women are working together to re-establish human rights and dignity for all people in Haiti:

    “A little bit here, a little drop there. A little bit of your voice and a little drop of my voice together can fight violence against women.”

    If you wish to support the efforts of FAVILEK, you may send a check to our post office box:
    B.P. 19048
    Port au Prince, Haiti

    March 3, 2014

  • Christopher P.

    Are you a lone artist or designer? Find out how you can put your skills to work to help combat violence against women, promote human rights, and band together to grow a local economy!

    March 2, 2014

  • Christopher P.

    We have a third panelist: Anna Zastrow who has worked in Haitian on relief projects with Bond Street Theatre, Clowns without Borders and FAVILEK (Fanm Viktim Leve Kanpe / Women Victims Get Up Stand Up)!

    1 · February 25, 2014

  • Christopher P.

    We have a second guest speaker, Burtland Granvil, who recently returned from working in Haiti with Architecture for Humanity!

    1 · February 15, 2014

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