Category Archives: Video

Tatiana Lathion: The Man, The Basement

Photography by Tatiana Lathion, Copyright 2020

 

Photography, Video and Text by Tatiana Lathion, Copyright 2020

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The Man, The Basement

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In this series, the artist chose to shoot in a basement. Why a basement? Well, in many ways, the basement symbolizes a sort of dark unfinished place, a place where our emotions dwell, where we experience the raw affect of feeling. In reality, many use the basement to store unwanted or unneeded items. It is often a place in a house that remains in a constant need of repair and disorder or casual place of gathering. It is never the first room to be shown to guests and is often times never shown to guests. In horror movies, it is the place where a character meets their death and is often associated with uneasy feelings. A finished basement is never the norm and is often met with surprise as people expect its rough edges. In this series, it symbolizes the place where we hide away our emotions. It represents the darkest and innermost sense of self, where we are allowed to express ourselves.

The subject of this series is a young black male, dressed in all black clothing. In this series of images, he expresses four emotions: sadness, despair, happiness, and love. In the hyper masculine society that we dwell within, there exists a societal standard that inhibits a free, uncritical expression of emotion from the male population. In many ways this is only intensified by the subjects blackness. In our society, the black population in the United States cannot afford to express emotions freely for being fearful of being viewed as weak, irrational, or unhinged by the ruling state. Instead, a burden is enforced in many minority households of this population to uphold and withhold their emotional state from others. Emotional expression is thus rejected two-fold for the subject of this series. However, in this darkened place, the subject is encouraged to express an emotional state. This symbolizes the inner emotional conflict of the subject, which is often never revealed to the general public.

In short, this series of images constitutes a small glimpse into the soul of the subject. It symbolizes the raw emotional state of the self and the continuous growth of human emotion. The subject and the setting are juxtaposed against shinny silver garland that is hung on the exposed pipes of the basement. For me, the reflective material represents an attempt to dress the dark unfinished parts of the human soul. It reflects the light and seems unnatural in the space and yet it adds to a concept of improving the self and allowing for emotional expression. I feel as though self-care and self-love has become this very surface level movement that attempts to improve years of trauma and emotional suppression with a face mask or some trivial material fix. However, to really heal and fix the human soul, it takes work and emotional upheaval of that suppression.

This series, attempts to create a visual representation of an abstracted construction of the holding place for the subjects emotions. It touches on the suppression of emotion by the subject and an expanded identity as well as attempts to reconstruct the artificial attempts to heal emotional trauma.

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About The Author: Tatiana Lathion is a senior enrolled at Haverford College majoring Political Science and Government.

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Cameras, Documentary, Environment, Film, Friends of TWS, Haverford College, lifestyle, Men, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Women

Katie Kerl: Tis the Season for Giving

 

Photography and Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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Tis’ the Season for Giving

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This year I took a different approach to the holidays. I packed an entire townhouse and moved two times in November (yes again). If you have followed my previous year in writing I felt like a nomad; finally feeling like I’m at HOME in my new PERMANENT space. Through the two moves I was able to complete my small food drive before Thanksgiving. Being short on time I wanted to do more. Realizing life could be much worse in many ways; I did not want my hectic personal life to change my demeanor, but enhance it. Let me tell you, if you are struggling mentally the best thing you can do is keep busy. Doing nice things for people who are REALLY STRUGGLING improves your overall well being.

 I also joined The Philly Influencer Mixer during that time run by Davida JanaeThey cover everything exciting going on in Philly while looking fabulous. I never really considered myself an influencer, but I guess promoting my lifestyle ,interviews, & blogging qualifies as such. If I can influence people to just be themselves despite criticism & stigma; I am doing what I set out to do.  

Once accepted to the group, I noticed there was a charity event that needed to be covered. The Black Tie Gala with Sneakers, benefiting the Trauma Survivors Foundation. The event took place at The Queen concert hall in Delaware. The evening included Two VIP tickets to the event and hotel accommodations. The curator of this event and head of The Trauma Survivors Foundation, Dennis Carradin is an angel of the trauma survivors.

I spoke with him briefly on the phone before the event and got a few tips to promote it. Dennis is a licensed therapist and goes into crisis situations to help the people in need. He also teaches a class training people to become crisis internationalists all over the country. This event had been running for a number of years with a traditional sit down banquet Hall event. 

This year they wanted to make it less stuffy, and that it was.

The Queen is a really cool event space and everyone looked amazing. I brought Rob Li with me my acro friend I previously interviewed as well. Rob is a great date for events. He comes ready to have a good time, and takes photos with the bomb lighting. Doing mini photo shoots through the night was also really fun. 

There were MANY chances to win cool prizes. Two awards for the best sneakers his and hers, 50/50 raffles, silent auction, and at least 5 major vacations that were given away through the night.   

The Trauma Survivors foundation runs many events through the year. You can find this information, and the link to sign up for the crisis intervention training program listed on their web site. This year’s proceeds from the Taste of Philly went to the organization as well.

This charity really hit home for me because I have been through hell and back; yet would not change a thing because I am completely different person now. When you leave a part of you behind that felt dead; it is a large weight lifted off your soul. That is what I call healing, and I did it on my own mentally, and with the support of really good friends helping me through the last few months.  

The world needs more caring people like Dennis and his whole crew that put the event together. The thing with trauma is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  It’s easy to feel defeated and give up, it’s not easy to change life and fight for what you really want.

That is what they are here to help survivors do.

For information on the Philly Influencer Mixer and Davita Janae visit:

https://phillyinfluencermixer.com/

For more information about Dennis and the Trauma Survivors Foundation please visit:

https://www.denniscarradin.com/

https://www.thetraumasurvivorsfoundation.com/

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 The second event I was invited to was The Ronald McDonald House Lighting. This was really a cute event for families, kids, sponsors, and employees there. The evening was filled with a catered buffet, The University of Pennsylvania band playing holiday music, beautiful house lights, Philly sports mascots entertaining everyone, history characters, Lego Land experience, face painting, Disney princesses, and all the positive holiday joy one could ask for.

 I took my girlfriend Aimee with me and we brought a bunch of unwrapped toys. When leaving, we both felt like the families there are very fortunate to have such a positive place to recover. Seeing all of the kids having a great time with the band and mascots was really heartwarming. After being there I wanted to let people know about their mission.

Ronald McDonald House History:

 Dr. Audrey E. Evans saw families spend night after night in the hospital while their children received life-saving medical treatment. She knew there had to be a better way and envisioned a house where families could stay during these stressful and uncertain times.

At the same time, the Philadelphia Eagles were raising funds in support of player Fred Hill, whose daughter, Kim, was in treatment for leukemia at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. Eagles’ General Manager Jimmy Murray approached St. Christopher’s about making a donation, Dr. Lawrence Naiman suggested there was an even greater need for funds resting with Dr. Evans. Mr. Murray met Dr. Evans and became a champion for her cause. He reached out to Eagles advertiser, McDonald’s, with the idea that they could offer the proceeds from their Shamrock Shake sales to benefit this new house. McDonald’s agreed, and the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House was born on October 15, 1974.

Thanks to the generosity of dedicated donors, the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House has grown from a single idea to the model for over 365 Houses worldwide. 

The Ronald McDonald House Philadelphia care program is also listed on their site, and is as follows:

“Our two Ronald McDonald Houses provide temporary lodging, transportation, meals, and social services to families who travel to Philadelphia for pediatric care. Our three Ronald McDonald Family Rooms extend the support of our Houses into the hospital setting and offer a quiet respite space for families at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. Ronald McDonald Camp is a week-long overnight camp for children with cancer and their siblings held in the Pocono Mountains every August. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, operated in partnership with St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children, provides comprehensive and continuous oral healthcare to children in North Philadelphia.

“Proceeds from donations made at local McDonald’s restaurants make up approximately 10% of our annual revenue, with the remaining 90% generated through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. It costs the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald House $148 a night per family to provide housing and supportive services; however, families are only asked to contribute $15 per night. No one is ever turned away due to inability to pay and the House waives approximately half the nightly fees annually.

For more information on volunteering, donating, or using services for your family please visit:

 https://www.philarmh.org/about-us/mission-history/

Both of these events were really something anyone could get behind. What saddened me was most of the attendees were all baby boomers. I feel like the notion of giving back and service has gone out the window with the home telephone and kids playing outside. It has been replaced with IPhone 11’s, and video game consoles. If you unplug from your own life you might just be able to help someone else. 

The New Year, and decade is approaching 2020!!

Ask yourself, “What change do you want to see?” Make the effort to promote it and stop complaining about the THINGS you do not have. No matter how small the service you are still doing something to promote your passion.

 To me that is much more valuable than any present one could give.

Happy Holidays Friends!! 

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Katie Kerl. December 2019

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Katie Kerl was raised in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She is currently living  in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Katie has a background in Psychology from Drexel University. She is a manager in the commercial/residential design field . Katie can be reached  on Instagram @kerlupwithkate 

For collaboration e-mail: Kate.kerl32@gmail.com

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To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here: https://tonyward.com/katie-kerl-derek-bailey-green-car-innovator/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Health Care, lifestyle, Philadelphia, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, Women

Katie Kerl: Derek Bailey Green Car Innovator

Derek Bailey Interview by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

 

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Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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Derek and I came across each other on Instagram. After seeing what he was doing I immediately asked to interview him. He welcomed any positive press and agreed. I had the Opportunity to sit down with Derek after the interview as well.

I was able to learn a little more about his company, but more importantly what kind of person he is. The questionnaire part of interview was completed a  few months ago. Derek’s car just recently arrived in the United States a few weeks back. I went to Hatfield, Pa to check it out in person last weekend. Also, I was able to meet part of his growing sales team; leads coming from the top Volkswagen and Lexus dealerships in the area.  They just like Derek were very welcoming, informative, and excited about what was happening there. 

The car industry is pretty cut throat, but I was pleasantly surprised at what gentlemen and active listeners they all were. 

No pretentious bullshit in this crew; he cut right to the chase and had quite the sense of humor about him. A very family oriented man. He loves his two daughters, and speaks highly of both of them. Derek’s mother and brother all are in the area as well. They take part in many charity events giving back to the community. Being so busy he still takes the time to give back and show gratitude for all his accomplishments. 

For me not knowing the first thing about cars; after talking with Derek I feel like Id be able to speak intelligently about his new innovation. One cool feature not seen on many electric cars; the Avani’s fully retractable sunroof. Most electric car dealers leave this out not wanting to waste precious battery charge. The Avani will not have that issue.

Derek broke it down in a way anyone could understand. That is what you need when trying to sway people into the clean energy movement; understanding. If we don’t educate the public, how will they make informed decisions about helping our declining environment? Tony Ward actually took the photos for this article. Derek had a drone flying the day of inspection. That was also taking place at the same time as Tony was capturing his shots. The drone capture was a pretty monumental; a famous photographer capturing a new leading green car mogul. 

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Derek Automotive started taking pre-orders with a $2,500 refundable deposit starting in September 2019. Deposits will also earn the first 200 buyers one thousand shares of company stock, as a founding buyer incentive.  

For all the information you’d need to know about Derek’s green car, please visit his site : 

https://snapshot.derekautomotive.com/

Derek Bailey

Derek Automotive

INTERVIEW

K.K. Tell me a little bit about yourself please?

D.B.  I was born in New Orleans and I’m 50 years old. I studied Economic – Major & a marketing minor, at Virginia State University, and went on to study for an MBA at the University of Edinburgh, which I did complete – due mostly to the interruption of launching businesses.

K.K. Being a serial entrepreneur how many businesses have you had since the beginning of your career; were you happy with all of them?

D.B. Actually, I’ve not had a job where I received a paycheck since I was about 19. I’ve launched many businesses, with many failures, but also a few big successes.  One being a Company called Popa Media which I sold for $11 million. I’ve been in the Temporary staffing business for over 35 years. It’s been the financial fuel for my other bigger endeavors like; Wolverton Bailey the company I co-founded to design and patent our new engine supercharger technology. After receiving two patents, I decided to launch Derek Automotive Technologies to commercialize our engine technology, as opposed to asking other companies to include my technology in their products.

K.K. When did you realize you wanted to be a part of the clean energy movement, and produce an electric car that has the ability to be self charging?

D.B. This whole effort has been about saving our planet, without harming our economy, as most approaches to climate change solutions seem to do. There are trade-offs to going green. When people talk about electric cars it’s as if they think the electricity comes from magic. Over 70% of the electricity produced in the world comes from burning fossil fuels, like coal and natural. If all electricity was created with nuclear energy or wind and solar, then electric cars make a lot more sense – no emission at the source of the energy, and no emissions at the vehicle – totally carbon free! What we have today is a situation where electric cars are pollution-shifting; no emissions in the car, but emissions are created far away at the electric plant. Our grid is so complex; it’s difficult to know the carbon footprint of a specific electric vehicle because we might not know where the power is coming from. I wanted to empower us to know the carbon footprint of every electric vehicle. The reason I wanted to build an electric vehicle that recharges itself is to get consumers to purchase electric cars! Electric car adoption has been slow because consumers don’t trust them and find them inconvenient (i.e., being able to recharge, the long time period required to recharge, etc.) plus they’re expensive. It’s my goal to solve these problems, and deliver an electric car that the masses will want to buy.

K.K. Can you tell me how the technology works?

D.B. We’ve created a technology we call a Proteus Supercharger. Of course Proteus is the god of nature /sea that could take any shape. The super charger is based on two patents we’ve been awarded. One patent is for a highly efficient combustion engine that burns all of its fuel (most of the pollution coming from vehicles today is unburnt fuel) so it emits 83% less carbon than today’s engines. The second patent is for a special amplifier-generator that intakes 1-volt on input end, runs it through a magnetic field and outputs 1000-volts on the other end. Our clean engine (technically, it’s called a prime-mover), which runs on a small amount of gas, turns the generator to create an abundant amount of electricity (gas-to-electric power generation) for the batteries and interior cabin in the electric car. The supercharger only creates electricity; it does not help power the car like in a typical Hybrid-car. So, effectively, we’ve put a small power plant inside the car to make it more convenient for consumers. We believe that most consumers will enjoy driving totally on electric power, but also spend only 2-minutes putting a few dollars of gas in the car, as opposed to sitting for a charge for 35-minutes up to 5-hours.

K.K. Who did you turn to for production of this new venture?

D.B. Unlike Tesla and others, we can’t raise the hundreds of millions required to build our own plant, so we’re using the Apple model where we design and have more experienced manufacturers build for us. The Chinese are actually leaders in building electric vehicles and we’re partnered with a Chinese manufacturer to build our electric car, and we will integrate our supercharger into it here in America, to create American jobs.

K.K. Is gaining investors easy considering it’s a form of clean energy, or is it difficult being it could shut other vehicle producers down?

D.B. We’ve been powered mostly by my own capital, and capital from small investors who share our passion for workable green tech solution to carbon emission from the transportation sector. It’s unfortunate to say, but minority-entrepreneurs don’t have the same access to venture capital as others. Seeing genius from us is still a little hard for many investors, so we have to be willing to bleed-alone to get things done – but hey, that’s the American way – entrepreneurship is for the rugged. As far as shutting down other producers, our goal is to produce a great vehicle, using our technology, get it into the market, have consumers go crazy for the power of electric driving, the recharging convenience, and then license our technology to all the other car makers.  Licensing is another billion dollar opportunity for us.

K.K. What are some of the road blocks you have had to overcome along the way in testing / production?

D.B.  You ever hear that song “no one knows the trouble I’ve seen?”  Well, our roadblocks have been plenty. No one believed we could build a better engine. Once built, no one believed we could get a patent. Now we have two. No one thought I could get a car built. Now, that I’m introducing the car, no one believes I can build a car company against the big competitors and in the current car market. At each step it’s an excuse not to invest in us. Always with the assumption that I won’t make it to the next step.  Yet each time I do – and now the incredible thing is I find myself still owning 65% of the company.  Now, I’m only a few steps from shocking the world. I learned a saying a few years back – “as an entrepreneur one might have to bleed and cry by him/her self, but we also get to go to the bank by Ourselves.”  It’s that thought that keeps me going.

K.K. Is this more of a luxury car, or will it be something that is affordable to everyone on a scale that will stop the way we pollute the environment?

D.B.  This first vehicle is an SUV; its styling is like that of a Range Rover. We needed to design something that consumers would recognize and have an idea of its value. Once we make some money with the luxury vehicle, I will build an affordable car that I already have on the drawing board and named. That is a secret for now.

K.K. How do you deal with stress of starting something so new?

D.B. That’s a great question and I’m not sure I’ve found the answer. I workout, take long drives just to play music and think. I’m not in a relationship right now, the place where one would find the best stress relief, assuming the relationship is a good one. So, I struggle a bit with managing my stress – I’ll admit I sometimes turn to Mr. Jack Daniels and a mindless TV show. The key is I’m always ready to get back on the grind every morning.

K.K. What are your hobbies?

D.B.  I like to hit golf balls, play chess, ride bikes, but business is my hobby. I also love cooking and construction because I can see the results of my efforts quickly, as opposed to the years it takes to build a business.

K.K. When will your self charging electric car be released to the public?

D.B. As I said earlier, I still have a few more steps to my ultimate goal of the self-charging car. This first car I’m revealing in September 2019 is an all-electric SUV. The strategy is to sell 150 all-electric units (same as what the other automakers are selling) and plow that money back into reducing the size and completing the integration of the supercharger into the electric vehicle – it’s a lot of work, still. To answer your question, I think we will have our self-charging vehicle on the market in early 2021, maybe sooner if all the stars align.

K.K. I noticed you were granted the right to import vehicles as well. What are you planning to do with that?

D.B.  That import license is important because one can’t import vehicles into the USA without approvals from the EPA and DOT. This was a stepping stone for us.

K.K. Where do you see this taking you in the next 5 years?

D.B.  In 5-years Derek Automotive Technologies will be known as America’s first minority-owned car manufacturer and the leader in carbon emission reduction from the transportation sector. We’ll operate in 3 countries, have sales in excess of $600 million and valuation of more than three billion; minting me as a new American billionaire.

K.K. What are your personal, company, and environmental goals?

D.B.  My personal goals are to see my two daughters finish their schooling debt free, or near debt free, find my forever girl, and leave a legacy of having had a huge impact on climate change by reducing carbon emission in the transportation sector.

K.K. When will the launch party be?

D.B. The launch party will now be this fall. We had a bit of a trip through The Department of Transportation and got a bit delayed.  Fall is the perfect time for a launch Party, everyone is back from vacation and ready for what’s new. I’m looking at a few locations as I couldn’t book anything because I was not sure when we’d get all our approvals. 

Awww the stress of it all!

I’ll put out a notice on social media and my e-mail once the date and location is decided.

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Katie Kerl checks out the new Avani by Derek Automotive

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Katie Kerl was raised in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She is currently living  in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Katie has a background in Psychology from Drexel University. She is a manager in the commercial/residential design field . Katie can be reached  on Instagram @kerlupwithkate 

For collaboration e-mail: Kate.kerl32@gmail.com

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To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click here:https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/katie-kerl-weed-the-people/

 

Also posted in Accessories, Advertising, Affiliates, Announcements, Blog, Covers, Current Events, Engineering, Environment, Friends of TWS, History, interview, lifestyle, Men, News, Philadelphia, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Posters, Travel, Women

Robert Li: Acro Yoga

 

Text by Robert Li, Copyright 2019

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Acro Yoga

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Ikigai. Have you heard the term before? It’s a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” Essentially, it’s a reason to get up in the morning. There is a sense of purpose and a reason to enjoy life.  If you take four elements – That which you love, That which you are good at, That which you can be paid for, and That which the world needs – and put them in a Venn diagram, your Ikigai is the intersection of all four. Someone told me that I found my Ikigai in Acro, and I believe she was right.

I came to the US from Taiwan when I was 11 months old and grew up in Huntingdon Valley before attending Drexel University, though I studied abroad in Berlin while working for the German government. I majored in International Area Studies with concentrations in Chinese and German, and minored in Business Administration and History.

After college, I was a professional party promoter and professional cheerleader for the Philadelphia Soul as well as the Philadelphia 76ers while becoming familiar with the point of sale industry. The combination of food and tech seemed like a perfect place.  Food has always been a passion of mine, so it was great to work with staff, managers, and owners all across the country.  Still, I was either working or on call from 10am to 3am every weekday and on call every other weekend.  There were a lot of perks, including working from home and free food when clients insisted I eat, but I felt like a slave to my phone because I had to answer at all hours, no matter what.  When I discovered Acro, something clicked. I wanted to do it all the time.  I realized that the other aspects of Acro align with what I enjoy in life as well: travel, meeting amazing people, and potential for beautiful photography.  At first, Acro was a hobby, but by the time my thoughts, actions, and even dreams involved Acro, I knew a life-changing decision was coming.

With the #ridetherob project, the timing was right. When I started Acro four years ago, I didn’t know what to wear. I figured others must have the same problem. Why not create something that could fill a need? The concept of creating a clothing line became more than a fleeting thought. As my passion for Acro grew into a full blown love affair, I knew I had to take actions instead of just thinking about it. My heart and mind shifted focus from my job to the possibilities of what I could do with Acro. The #ridetherob project was building a lot of momentum, and studios started approaching me to teach. With so many amazing opportunities knocking at my door, I needed to answer the call and see what adventures await. Here was a big step towards the unknown, comforted by the thought that I have a whole community of amazing people supporting me in this adventure.

I wanted to create quality apparel for active lifestyles, and I had no idea where to begin. The first step was to make my intentions known and to make the time for this endeavor. Leaving a stable job with steady income was necessary to see this through. I was a motivated and knowledge-thirsty sponge, soaking in every piece of information and detail. Then I started making moves and developing my brand and products. Active Elixir was born (www.active-elixir.com). It’s the “perfect solution for people of movement.” I would address issues people have with apparel in various movements and provide solutions for them. My focus would be on all the various niche markets, starting with which I was familiar – Acro. Now I am developing Pole Wear, Swimwear, and in the next year, Belly Dance Wear and Social Dance Wear. Items are designed with ideas I’ve had, recommendations from friends, or random inspirations, and once they were realized, I test the prototypes on people who are actively involved in the practice. I listen to what they want, gathered feedback on the piece, made changes, and try again until it’s perfect — functional, comfortable, well-made, and stylish. I offer a direct line to someone who can make the changes you’ve always wanted to see in apparel, especially for your practice. I just hope that when all is said and done, I don’t end up with an absurd amount of women’s clothing in my apartment; I want to give them happy homes. In the near future, I’m looking towards fashion shows and collaborating with yoga studios.

My other pet project is #Ridetherob.  Funny enough, the idea for it came in the shower.  I recently got into Acro, and I wanted to show people how much fun it can be. I didn’t know this little project would evolve into something more and inspire others to create challenges and personal goals beyond expectations. At first, it was to show the world what Acro was, and then it was to make people feel good and happy while creating a deeper connection between human beings. At least, that’s what I observed the first couple of years. Now I realize it shows that people can learn and do things they thought was impossible. I’m also working on adding a philanthropic element to this project as I collaborate with various charities and other events.  My current count is 5,323 people I’ve lifted up on my Journey to 10,000.  The heaviest person I lifted while on the ground was my former rugby teammate who is 360 lbs. The heaviest individual I lifted standing was 250 pounds and almost 7 ft tall. I’ve also lifted a family of 6 at the same time and did a Triple Cupie with 3 flyers standing on my hands.

The Philly Mag article was great.(https://www.phillymag.com/be-well-philly/2018/02/13/rob-li-lift-acro/) It was the first published article about the project. Being on Good Day Philadelphia and lifting the anchors as well as just about everyone in the Fox 29 office was also a lot of fun.  When CBS3 asked me to come in, I lifted anyone that wanted to be part of the project, and it seemed to make everyone’s days seeing how happy they were. (https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/video/4121404-local-acro-yoga-instructor-on-mission-to-lift-as-many-people-as-possible-to-spread-teaching/?fbclid=IwAR0sqCjL4QA5dneLLk4BaJO3qCCljjCwiYJeDAIBUSQOpWp0yTsD-1W57x4)

Growing up, I was quite chunky. I would eat everything in sight. Then I got into sports one summer. I lost about 20 pounds unintentionally and just have been active ever since. I played football, wrestled, ran track, fenced, did cheer, and played rugby.  I coached Temple Co-Ed Cheer because the head coach wanted to bring back a co-ed stunt team and asked me to help out. It’s amazing seeing the cheerleaders progress in their skills season to season.   

I am so thankful that I did cheer. I did not know that people tossing would be such a valuable life skill to have. Having a strong foundation in the fundamentals of standing Acro has helped me achieve a variety of skills. It also led me to teaching Acro. One of the people I lifted had her own yoga studio, and she insisted I teach an Acro workshop. I told her I wasn’t certified and have just been doing Acro for a couple of years, but she told me that the way I instructed her into her pose was evidence enough that I would be good at teaching. I taught my first class and really enjoyed it. Having about 20 years of cheer experience also helps out. Because of this foundation, I was able to learn skills in 20 minutes that people work on for a year or more.

Even though I have a strong personal practice, teaching people who are trying Acro for the first time has been really rewarding. Sometimes I find myself in random situations– I’ve been invited to a number of Bachelorette parties, and I would come in and lift everyone. One of my personal goals was to hit a Rewind, which is a dynamic cheer stunt in which the flyer essentially does a back tuck while the base tosses her in the air and then catches her feet as she comes out of the tuck. I was so thrilled that I even did a Happy Dance while holding the flyer in the skill. Unlocking new skills is such an amazing feeling, especially when you work for it. Some other stories include me lifting a flight attendant while 34,000 feet in the air. I’ve done Acro on top of bars at clubs and lounges. In the kitchen or counters of restaurants. At a few gentlemen’s clubs. On stage at a gentlemen’s club. On boats and yachts. On paddle boards. At hospitals. In offices. Every day is an adventure, and I’ll do Acro wherever. The pose depends on who is flying and what feels safe and what I call concrete-ready. 

Acro has even led me to perform and compete in one of the country’s largest competitions of this kind. When I went to see Diamond G a few years ago to support my friend, I saw some Acro in one of the performances. My thought process quickly went from I can do that, to I should do that, to I will do that. For a whole year, I was thinking about who should be on the team and what I should do. I recruited very talented acrobats, aerialists, pole dancers, and exotic dancers to compete for the coveted Diamond G-String title and $15,000. Despite being new to this, we came home with the title and prize money, and I met some amazing people in the process and have the utmost respect for anyone that puts on a show of this magnitude. 

It was a challenging and exciting endeavor, much like starting an apparel company, and I’m learning more about the industry each day. Almost every night before bed and every morning when I wake up, I am talking to my contacts in Asia. There has been no shortage of delays or mistakes that needed to be addressed in a timely manner. My search for reliable manufacturers that can take my ideas and create quality products has led me down some interesting roads. For those who might be thinking about embarking on a similar project, do your research. Be prepared for a lot of things to go the way you don’t expect them to go, and learn how to overcome those challenges.  Learn from your mistakes and apply that knowledge to future situations. Take lots of notes. Make sure you have money put aside because you will be spending more than you think. Believe in yourself. Take calculated risks and put yourself out there. Be kind to everyone. You never know who you’re going to meet who can help you in some way.

It also helps to listen, and I mean really listen to what women (and male consumers too!) have to say.  I’ve learned so much about bras and boobs. It’s still very confusing though. There are many body types and preferences to consider. I’ve learned about various tests women try when deciding which pieces of apparel they purchase—squats, jumps, and inversions. Learning from women firsthand means that I can develop clothing that fits their needs directly. I’m also studying shopping habits and learning about marketing through social media. This is a lot for someone who basically posts twice a month on Instagram. Yes, I’m working on that.

The support from my friends and various Acro communities has been tremendous. I am so grateful for the amazing people that have helped me and believed in me in realizing my vision. It’s heart-warming to see how happy people are with my products. They tell me stories about how great they feel and the amount of compliments they’ve received from wearing my clothing line. It’s really rewarding to hear that after putting so much time, energy, and money into such a huge endeavor.  It can definitely be difficult at times, but it’s been incredibly rewarding, and I’m excited to see what comes next.

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About The Author: Robert Li grew up in Huntingdon Valley, PA and resides in Philadelphia. He majored in International Area Studies with concentrations in German and Chinese and Minors in Business Administration and History at Drexel University. He is the Founder of Active Elixir, a clothing brand focused on creating solutions for people of movement through apparel. With his experience as a cheerleader for Drexel University, the Philadelphia Soul, and the Philadelphia 76ers as well as Cheer Coach for Temple University, he is also an AcroYoga instructor teaching at various studios in Philadelphia and Acro festivals across the country.

www.active-elixir.com

If you want to get in touch with Rob, you can find him on Instagram – @themojoshow and @activeelixir or email him: activeelixir@gmail.com.

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Health Care, lifestyle, Men, News, Philadelphia, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Sports

Kiera Roberto: Saving Daisy


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SYNOPSIS
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Text and Video by Kiera Roberto, Copyright 2018
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Saving Daisy will pick up where the Netflix film “Audrie & Daisy” left off.  This short documentary will follow Daisy Coleman’s journey of healing from lifelong trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, through treatment using EMDR (eye movement desensitization reprocessing) Therapy. 

Millions of people from all over the world came to learn about Daisy’s sexual assault when her story went viral and was followed by a feature length documentary.  But that was only the beginning of her journey as a survivor.  With this film, Daisy has joined forces with a team of filmmakers and fellow survivors to follow her vulnerable PTSD recovery process, in an effort to inspire other survivors and their families in recovery.  We will follow her through her EMDR treatment to unlock the layers of trauma from her assault, the tragic death of her father prior to the assault, as well as the recent sudden loss of her younger brother.  Daisy has faced more trauma in her 21 years than anyone should ever be faced with in a lifetime, but this film will prove to survivors everywhere that healing is possible.

This film will become part of the learning tools offered by SafeBAE, the national organization that Daisy helped to found in 2015, which works to prevent sexual assault among teens. 

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Please donate. Link to Kickstarter fundinghttps://www.kickstarter.com/projects/200266748/saving-daisy

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Kiera Roberto: Fimmaker/Producer. Hollywood

Kiera Roberto: Fimmaker/Producer. Hollywood

About The Author: Kiera Roberto has been pursuing film for a couple of years with a few music videos and short films under her belt.  The most important part of the film platform is that she is able to fight issues she firmly believes in.  In addition to this film, Ms. Roberto is on the board of a non profit SAFEBAE that creates educational videos for students in grade schools. This is Kiera’s first contribution to Tony Ward Studio.

 

 
 
Also posted in Advertising, Announcements, Art, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Health Care, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Student Life, Women