Hope and Crosby never made a road picture like this!
I wholeheartedly salute two extraordinary young women whom I had the honor to encounter nearly two years ago. They are Holli Rae and Sara Landas, and they have been in the midst of filming their documentary The Goddess Project for some three years now. Their credo: “To set our fears aside, and film other women who are doing the same.”
The film’s premise is simple, yet their journey to make it was a life-changing one for them. It is an intimate look, through interviews, into the lives and inspiration of over 100 women across America, each speaking and baring their souls in a very personal way about their struggles, their inspirations, their contributions, on everything from sisterhood, family, and overcoming fears, to spirituality, aging, body image and sexuality, and speaking in such an honest and disclosing way, toward the purpose of demonstrating real and diverse role models for women of all ages to see and to experience, and to bridge the gaps that have sometimes separated us.
In 2012 Holli and Sara left all of their comforts behind, acquired a vegetable oil-powered school bus (decking it out as only goddesses can!) and took a leap of faith, embarking on a remarkable journey across the US in search of women from every walk of life – artists, activists, mothers, sisters, academics, businesswomen, scholars – all eager to share their stories.
I came across these two lights, or they came across me, because Sara’s dad is a friend and colleague of mine. They came to my home bearing a bouquet of beautiful blooms, and carrying on them their cameras and their great big hearts, and we had a ball talking about life as women, and even shedding a few tears. I believe L.A. was the first wing of their journey, so little did they know at that moment what amazing adventures and encounters were awaiting them.
“Everywhere we stopped, whether it was at a coffee shop or rest stop,
we were amazed by the number of people who wanted us to meet
an inspiring woman in their life . . . This film presents an intimate look at the
universal concerns that we face as women through groundbreaking dialogue . . .”
– Holli & Sara
10,000 miles later, they had amassed hundreds of hours of footage, and had experienced the time of their lives. After the honor of being one of their interviewees, I caught up with them recently, in the midst of their post-production tasks, and asked if they wouldn’t mind being on the other end for a moment.
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How did you two meet? And did the idea for this film come out of your blossoming friendship, or did one of you have the idea first, and through or because of the idea met the other?
We met in the summer of 2008 on a mountain top! Through sharing stories and making art together, our connection quickly developed into the most co-creative friendship we had ever experienced. As our bond became stronger and our dreams became bolder, we started meeting so many other inspiring women who were also on a path to pursuing their dreams. Meeting these ladies and hearing about their unique journeys of self-discovery inspired us to create The Goddess Project. We saw a need for more empowering stories like theirs in the media and instantly started envisioning how we could share them with the world. We decided to sell everything that we owned, and launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to fund the production of the project. We promised each other that even if the campaign wasn’t successful, we would still hit the road and find a way to make it work. Our minds were blown away by the incredible people who showed up to help make this film possible. Over 100 people from around the world donated to help us start the project.
Then something even more magical happened! We met a man named Chirp at a music festival, told him about our project, and he offered to give us his vegetable oil-powered bus! Neither of us had ever been given a gift like this from a total stranger, so this act of kindness absolutely blew our minds. This incredibly generous gift was a huge game changer. Then we serendipitously connected with an incredible artist named Michelle Robinson through Tumblr who donated her time to help us transform a little brown school bus into a beautiful, inspiring art car. So we packed our lives into The Goddess Bus and hit the road with two suitcases, our camera equipment, and no idea what we would find!
Well, we love Chirp! Our angels do come to us in the most unexpected ways, don’t they? And Michelle’s bus art is just so breathtaking in that powerful Sacred Feminine tradition.
As an artist, myself, I find that the ideas I come up with for a book, or a song, or a painting, are usually coming from a place in my soul of lack or need, a hole to be filled, in a sense. Where do you think this idea of interviewing inspiring women came from?
We felt frustrated by the constant bombardment of the same stereotypical roles of women in the media. We wanted to see a broader spectrum of female role models, so we decided to put our heads together and come up with a solution!
Movies play a huge role in shaping culture and we need to see more films that empower women rather than perpetuating negative stereotypes and limiting beliefs. We don’t need any more distorted versions of reality telling us that we are not good enough. We are perfect as we are, and more films need to encourage that! We are creating The Goddess Project to remind women of all ages that they are strong, beautiful, and capable of achieving anything they set their minds to!
What were you hoping to discover in talking to women across the country, and were your hopes and expectations answered? Or did you find that conversations went in completely different directions than you had planned?
We wanted to see what women across America are passionate about, and to discover how similar we all are in our differences. We wanted to know what it’s like to be who they are, and hear about what they have overcome to get there. We wanted to know what their fears are, what they love about themselves, and what they hope to see and become in the future.
We hoped that we would be able to find women who were willing to be open, honest, and real . . . and we ended up finding over a hundred of them! We sat with women from all walks of life; at dinner tables, coffee shops, on horseback, and in parks; to talk about what they felt most called to share. We interviewed artists, mothers, healers, business women, and scholars about the life-changing experiences that shaped them to become who they are today. We talked about everything under the sun, and almost every interview ended in tears.
We learned that many of our fears and obstacles are the same. We learned that women across America want to feel connected and understood. We learned that every story is profound, and that women are ready for more representation. We learned that women across the country are dedicated to bettering themselves and the world around them.
As young women, yourselves, looking for positive role models from just such women as you describe, how important was the older demographic among the ones you encountered? And what gold did you get from the younger women? And what ended up being the age range of everyone you interviewed?
Well, so much gold! We ended up interviewing women from the ages of 18-90! The older women we spoke with absolutely blew our minds because they have come so far and have so much insightful wisdom to share. The younger women inspired us as well because they were so dedicated to pursuing the life of the dreams. Each woman taught us something new about ourselves and the world that we had never seen before. It was an amazing experience to be able to travel from city to city, hearing the collective voices of women and seeing the amazing things that they are doing in their homes and communities!
I’ve been following this journey, and it’s been very exciting! In seeing the clips, the beautiful teasers, in the trailers that you’ve made over the past year, I’ve been especially moved by how you left no social demographic out of the loop. As an African-American woman, myself, in this society, it isn’t uncommon for me to feel, at times, a bit left out of the cultural conversation. And, of course, I had the honor of being one of your interviewees! And I have to say, I was completely struck, as I followed your journey, by how much you were so all-inclusive of the radiant array of women of every heritage, station, vocation, age, and every other social orientation. Can you please speak a bit on that? Was it conscious on your part, or were you just walking this path with hearts so open that . . . well, let me let you finish the thought.
We embarked on this journey with open hearts and planned to interview as many of the most diverse women as we could find. We definitely made a conscious effort to be all-inclusive when it came to our interviewees because we know that all women out there are seeking inspiration and in most of the media, women, especially those of color, are lacking representation.
As we made our way across the country, we ended up finding women in the most serendipitous and magical ways. Initially we reached out to them through the internet and by word of mouth, but as we traveled from city to city our brightly painted bus became a magnet that attracted amazing women everywhere we went! At each destination we were approached by women from all walks of life who felt called to share their stories. Having the opportunity to connect with all of these unique women opened our minds to so many different perspectives, and as we got to know each of them we also realized just how similar so many of our fears and obstacles are. We learned that although each of our individual journeys looks so different from the outside, there are similar threads that connect us all. We are so excited to weave this beautiful web of women’s stories together, so that we can bridge the gaps that separate us from one another and inspire people everywhere to create positive change in their own lives!
Please talk a little, if you don’t mind, about some of the more unexpected things that occurred on your journey. Any interesting hurdles? Especially considering that you were living on the most menial of resources.
We both love camping and road trips, so going into the journey we weren’t too worried about life on the road! That said, the reality of living for 6 months in an amenity-free bus (sometimes in 100 degree heat) ended up being a lot more challenging at times than we had anticipated! Most of our showers consisted of baby wipes and Dr. Bronner’s, and we spent a lot of time peeing in cups if there wasn’t a bathroom nearby. We quickly learned how to live off just the bare necessities, but also discovered how many amazing people there are out there ready and willing to help you out in a time of need! One night, we found ourselves trying to get some sleep in our bus in New Orleans when it was still blazing hot outside and we were in a bad part of town, so we had to keep the windows shut. We lay there pouring water on ourselves, wondering if we could survive the night in that kind of heat. Suddenly there was a knock at our door. It was a woman we had met earlier that day who insisted we come stay with her. We followed her back to her place just down the street and had a beautiful night’s sleep in her air-conditioned den. Everyday we faced new hurdles as we stepped into the unknown, but we stayed open and our intuitions always led us right where we needed to be!
Was there anything that scared you about taking on a vision as monumental as this? Doubts, at any point, about the leaps of faith you were taking, not only to go on this journey, but the leaps of faith in each other?
From the very moment we made the decision that this is what we were going to do, we committed wholeheartedly to it! We did have our fears about taking on something this big, but we made the choice that no matter how things unfolded, whether we rallied the support or not, we were going to make this film happen! Three years into the journey and we can definitely say we had no idea how much work was going to go into bringing this film to life, but everyday we work together to keep our vision strong. When one of us is feeling doubtful or overwhelmed, the other one is always there reminding us of the importance of this project and why we have to keep pushing forward! Taking on something this big is a lot more manageable when you’re sharing the weight with your best friend!
SERIOUSLY amen! Who have been your personal heroes, who have helped to build you into the strong young women you are today? Either personal, or in history? And why?
One of our personal heroes is Eve Ensler. From her playwriting to her global activism, she is a force of nature! She is a woman who has devoted her life to being a voice of change, and an example of how instrumental just one person can be in changing the lives of so many! We were lucky enough to have her reach out to us when we were about half way through the journey, and her organization One Billion Rising became a producer of the film! We are so honored to have her on board, she is such an inspiration to us!
Eve Ensler is truly a special being on the planet. You’re definitely speaking my language. So, what is ultimately the legacy you’d like to leave?
There is this great quote by Albert Pine: ” What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world is immortal.” We want to use what little time we have in this life to use the talents we have to create art that helps raise the consciousness on the planet and empowers others to overcome their fears and live the lives of their dreams!
You two are an inspiration, and the world needs to know about The Goddess Project. I have felt incredibly humbled to have had some small part in this, and to have been able to watch it grow beyond all expectation, as your journey unfolded. I raise my proverbial glass to you two bright beacons for change and liberation, Holli Rae and Sara Landas. Thank you so much for chatting with me.
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The larger goal, of course, is the film itself, and everything that it stands to shift in our consciousness. But the immediate goal is one that can use our help. Holli and Sara have a Kickstarter campaign in the works, to help raise enough money to complete the post-production on a film that is truly important and needs to be out there. If you’re feeling even the slightest bit philanthropic ($1 even!), I urge you to consider being a part of this game-changing, transformational project. You honestly couldn’t choose a nobler investment. The deadline to raise their pledge is Friday, Aug 22, 2014, 3:33 PM PDT.
If NOTHING ELSE, please take 4 minutes to watch this newest trailer, and I defy you to not be inspired.
AND PLEASE SHARE THEIR STORY FORWARD
Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, is a recipient of the Heritage/Soulword Magazine Award in poetry, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD. Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog.