Next Friday I’m on a panel called Inspired to Action, moderated by an American professor and actor named Anna Deavere Smith. The Global Nomads Group is presenting the panel at the Aspen Ideas Festival, and it’s sponsored by the Bezos Family Foundation. I’m attending the Aspen festival with my friend and co-author  Bryan Mealer. It will be the first time I’ve been to the mountains that are about 2 km up in the air and my first time to Colorado. Two of the other panelists, Darius Weems and Logan Smalley are also TED Fellows

William Kawamba


Friday, July 3, 2009, 8 P.M., Hotel Jerome, Aspen, CO
Tickets $20; available in advance @ Wheeler Opera House
@ Door, as available


When I dropped out of school, I went to the library and read and gathered information about how to make a windmill. I tried and I made it. William Kawamba INVENTOR AT 14

June 26, 2009, Aspen, CO — What inspires a great idea? Necessity? Extraordinary circumstances? Passion? What makes one person find hope and courage in circumstances that cause so many others to despair? How does one young person spark life-enhancing change in a village, a country, the world?

On July 3, 2009, the INSPIRED TO ACTION event at Hotel Jerome in Aspen, CO, will offer a personal introduction to five remarkable individuals who have become leaders in their generation as they harness the wind in Africa, bring women’s rights to Afghanistan, battle the number one genetic killer of children and help improve the lives of orphaned children in Peru. Although their journeys and challenges are markedly different, they share many traits: determination, resilience, spirit and a great urgency for change.

For example, when William Kamkwamba was forced to quit school at age 14 because his family couldn’t afford the $80 fee, his future seemed limited, even by the standards of his farming village in Malawi. But not to be deterred, this born inventor used a library book about energy as his guide to create an electricity-producing windmill to power his family’s home.

It was a bit like tilting at windmills at first and he received little support. “They all thought that maybe I am going mad and maybe I’m going crazy. I didn’t receive much support on the first time,” Kamkwamba explains.

His prototype windmill, created from a broken bicycle, tractor fan blade, old shock absorber and blue gum trees, powered four light bulbs and two radios, and charged neighbors’ mobile phones. His second attempt—a 12-meter windmill to catch the wind above the trees—added a car battery for storage, homemade light switches and circuit breakers. He also experimented with a radio transmitter to broadcast popular music interspersed with HIV prevention messages. For more information, visit William’s Blog:

The Global Nomads Group event is part of the 2009 Aspen Ideas Festival roster of offerings that focus on 
IDEAS THAT WORK. Anna Deavere Smith acclaimed actor, playwright, teacher and author, will moderate the evening.


IngridAna Dodson, 17, hails from Cusco, Peru. She was adopted as a baby and has lived in Colorado since that time. At 11, she and her mother visited a girl’s orphanage in Peru. Saddened by the poverty she witnessed, Ana returned home and founded Peruvian Hearts to improve the quality of life for the girls at the orphanage. Peruvian Hearts now fully supports the girls at the orphanage and additionally provides breakfast, lunch and daily vitamins to over 500 children living in poverty in Peru. Ana is the Youth Ambassador for the Stop Child Poverty Campaign, a worldwide effort organized by the Global Volunteer Network Foundation. She spoke at Peace Jam and the United Nations in New York and has been recognized by the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, The Gloria Barron Young Heroes Award and the Do Something Award. Most recently, Ana was named a recipient of the 2009 Caring Institute Award. Ana plans to attend college and continue her work with Peruvian Hearts. For more information, visit 

IngridDarius Weems, 19, from Athens, Georgia, recently received a standing ovation from all 10,000 people attending the Clarke Central High School graduation held at the University of Georgia Coliseum. Darius is the star of the documentary, “Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life,” a multi-award-winning documentary that raises awareness of his disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), the number one genetic killer of children. Darius lost his older brother, Mario, to DMD in 2000, when Mario was just 19. Darius is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Barron Prize, the Volvo for Life Award, the World of Children Award, and most recently, a Do Something Award. Darius and Logan Smalley attended the TED Conference in February of 2009 as inaugural Fellows and presented together on the main stage. He has appeared on Nightline, The Today Show and The Ellen DeGeneres Show to promote his film, and has spent the last year on the road with his crew, traveling the country in an effort to sell one million DVDs of his film. For every $20 DVD purchase, $17 go
es to DMD research. He is currently working on a hip-hop CD to be released later this year. For more information, visit 

IngridLogan Smalley, 26, grew up in Athens, Georgia. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Georgia in 2006 with a degree in Special Education and recently received his Master’s degree in Technology, Innovation, & Education at Harvard University. Logan has devoted the last four years almost exclusively to editing and promoting the multi-award winning documentary, “Darius Goes West: The Roll of His Life.” This film captured 28 film festival awards worldwide in 2007. Logan is also president of Goslabi Productions, an educational media-consulting firm headquartered in Boston, which offers web design and video production services. Clients include Harvard University and Children’s Hospital of Boston. Logan won first prize in The Christophers’ 19th Annual Video Contest for College Students for a five-minute preview of “Darius Goes West,” and is the recipient of numerous community service awards for raising awareness of people with disabilities. For more information, visit 

IngridPalwasha Zarifi, 26, hails from Kabul, and from a very early age has worked to improve the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan in the midst of tremendous challenges. At 16, she joined the Afghan Women’s Network. By 18, she was working with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). At 20, she founded the Skills Training and Rehabilitation Society (STARS) in Kabul, where she is currently the Managing Director. STARS operates in nine of Afghanistan’s provinces in the areas of agriculture, health, education, skills development and disaster management, and partners regularly with international humanitarian agencies. STARS also provides employment training and support to widows and their children in Kabul. In 2007, UNICEF selected Palwasha as a Young Champion for Girls Education. She sits on the Steering Committee of the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief (ACBAR). She has traveled outside of Afghanistan numerous times to speak at international conferences and seminars about the plight of Afghan girls and women. Palwasha is currently a first-year student at Kateb University, studying political science. For more information, visit and

The Bezos Scholars Program Sponsors
Global Nomads Group Event @ The Aspen Ideas Festival

Join us for an evening with five visionaries of their generation. Sponsored by the Bezos Scholars Program, this Global Nomads Group event will explore the personal stories of extraordinary young leaders. Meet William, who at 14 harnessed the wind to power his village in Malawi. Meet Logan and Darius who are spreading the word—from a wheelchair that defines cool—about Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the number one genetic killer of children in the U.S. Meet Ana, who at 11 founded Peruvian Hearts to provide a better life for child orphans in her native country. Meet Palwasha, who at 17 has courageously begun a women’s movement in Afghanistan. Learn what triggers innovation and leave inspired!

8 PM

Aspen, CO
Tickets, $20; available in advance
available in advance
@ Wheeler Opera House
@ Door, as available (the 2008 event sold out)


Bezos Scholars Program

The Bezos Scholars Program @ the Aspen Institute, an inspired collaboration between the Bezos Family Foundation and the Aspen Institute, was founded in 2005. The program brings together 12 of the country’s top high school juniors and 12 of the most engaged educators, to meet one another and engage in seminars and informal meetings with the international leaders, acclaimed thinkers and creative artists who participate in the annual Aspen Ideas Festival. Following the Festival—a time of discovery and intellectual stimulation—the scholars return home and create local Ideas Festivals for their own schools and communities. The Bezos Family Foundation recently partnered with the World Science festival to create a second opportunity for stellar public high school students: the Bezos Scholars Program @ the World Science Festival.

Founded in 1998, the Global Nomads Group (GNG) is a non-profit organization dedicated to heightening children’s understanding and appreciation for the world and its people. Using interactive technologies such as videoconferencing, GNG brings young people together face-to-face to meet across cultural and national boundaries to discuss their differences and similarities, and the world issues that affect them.

Bezos Family Foundation

The Bezos Family Foundation is a private, independent foundation established by Jackie and Mike Bezos, who along with their children and spouses, serve as directors. The foundation works to strengthen educational opportunities for everyone, regardless of economic circumstances, and cultivate learning as a life-long process that begins in early childhood.

The Aspen Institute

For more than 50 years, the Aspen Institute has been a foundation for global thought. This international nonprofit organization is dedicated to fostering enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue. Through seminars, policy programs, conferences and leadership development initiatives, the Institute and its international partners seek to promote nonpartisan inquiry and an appreciation for timeless values. The Institute is headquartered in Washington, DC, and has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Its international network includes partner Aspen Institutes in Berlin, Rome, Lyon, Tokyo, New Delhi and Bucharest, and leadership programs in Africa, Central America and India.

The Aspen Ideas Festival

In a ground-breaking outgrowth of its mandate to create opportunities for deep dialogue, the Aspen Institute created the Aspen Ideas Festival to engage a broader audience in a discussion of some of the significant ideas and issues that touch all parts of our society. Alongside its partner, The Atlantic, the Festival offers a stimulating and invigorating celebration of some of the liveliest minds on today’s world stage.

Linda Shockley