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The Nobelity Blog is a running series of reports on the film and education work of The Nobelity Project (www.nobelity.org), including reports from our partner project Mahiga Hope High School in Kenya, and numerous other school projects from our Kenya Schools Fund. The blog also includes reports on our films, including the recent SXSW Audience Award winner, Building Hope, and on our advocacy for specific issues related to a more sustainable and just world for children everywhere.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Good News From Africa

Welcome back to the Nobelity Blog, where my motto should be, “Good News… about two months after it happens.” First of all, I want to thank everyone who supported our water and education projects in Ethiopia and Kenya. I’m back from an inspiring trip to Africa and could not be happier about the progress I saw there.

Water (and More) for St. Joseph Mahiga Primary School

I was met in Nairobi by our friend and partner, Joseph Mutongu, who first took me to the Mahiga Primary School three years ago. After we planted trees at the school, Joseph shared his dream of building a water system for these great kids who were walking long distances to collect surface water that frequently made them sick.

I promised that day to help provide clean water for the school, and that promise was in many ways the beginning of The Nobelity Project. For that, I owe Joseph a great debt of thanks, because a lot of good things in a lot of countries have grown out of his dream.


At the beginning of the Fall semester in September, Joseph and I traveled back to Mahiga for the official inauguration of the school’s new water and electrical systems, and a new Nobelity Project computer lab (I had 8 OLPC laptops for the kids in my bags on the flight to Kenya, and AMD’s Matthew Chetty brought a beautiful HP laptop for the teachers from his office in Capetown).

Mahiga kids with new computer


A new building! – The Nobelity Project Computer Lab


Joseph Mutongu with water storage tanks at Mahiga School


Words cannot do justice to the wonderful welcome we received, and for the appreciation of these 346 kids (and a whole lot of parents) for the improvements at the school. The happiest news was that the District Education Manager was also impressed. St. Joseph Mahiga now the number 1 rated school (out of 600!) in the district! Even better, the district has decided to seek funding to build an adjacent high school so that these great kids can continue their education past grade 8 and have real opportunity in their lives.

Looking out at all those wonderful kids, I made another promise – this time that the Nobelity Project will be a full partner for the construction Mahiga Hope High School. More on this great new effort after the New Year, but first we better catch up with the rest of 2008.

Our Six Wells in Ethiopia


After Kenya, I continued to Ethiopia where I had another inspiring experience checking out the work of A Glimmer of Hope. The Nobelity Project is funding six wells this year with Glimmer, and I had the chance to visit several of these wells as they were under construction. One of the wells had just been drilled and hit water at 150 feet. Two of the hand-dug wells were partially completed, and were already deep enough to be producing large quantities of water. Thanks to our major donors who provided clean water that will literally change the future of these six communities.

Short Films/Big Changes

Our ongoing series of short films is having a great impact on the programs we’ve profiled. Caroline Boudreaux and I showed One Child at a Time at a fundraiser for The Miracle Foundation last weekend, and after the screening at Nav Sooch’s home, TMF raised $300,000! to build a new Village Orphanage in India. Congratulations Caroline!

The next film in the series profiles A Glimmer of Hope’s incredible work in Ethiopia, and will be released before Christmas.
We’ll be producing four of these films each year and need all the monetary support we can get to make these films and spread the word about great work that’s being done all over the world.

The next film profiles Wheels for Humanity and their work to provide wheelchairs to disabled children in the developing world. And in February, I’ll be traveling to Cambodia to film sight restoration camps and clinics with the Seva Foundation, who have restored the sight of 2 million blind people.


If you’d like to make a donation to support Short Films/Big Changes, click here. (Support Short Films/Big Changes)


If you’d like to support the Nobelity in Schools program, where we’ll be providing free dvds of Nobelity and One Peace at a Time to thousands of teachers, click here. (Support Nobelity in Schools)


And if you’d like to make the best type of donation for us – one that can be used for any of our work – we pledge to do good things with your support. (Support the Nobelity Project’s General Fund)

Monday, September 1, 2008

An Amazing Summer for the Nobelity Project!

- The Nobelity Project joins the Clinton Global Initiative
- The Million Student Outreach Initiative
- Nobelity goes to space
- One Peace at a Time set to premier in March, 2009

With summer over, I am back on my feet from my filming accident in the Grand Canyon and looking back at fourteen weeks progressing from a wheelchair to crutches to a cane. I really didn’t want to break my leg in three places, but looking back, I can see that the forced sabbatical has resulted in a lot of great developments for the Nobelity Project.

The big news this week is that the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) has invited us to join its non-partisan convening of global leaders who work together to implement solutions to pressing global challenges. Whether a CEO like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, a Nobel laureate like Desmond Tutu and Wangari Maathai, a corporation like Google, or a nonprofit like the Nobelity Project, CGI members make substantial commitments to take concrete, measurable steps to improve and save lives around the world.

We are very proud to announce that The Nobelity Project’s commitment to CGI is to reach one million middle and high school students in 2009 through a dramatic expansion of our Nobelity In Schoiols program. Since our profit accumulates in knowledge and change, we are going to donate a double DVD package of Nobelity and One Peace at a Time, plus classroom materials and a web-based Circle of Learning program to every teacher who wants to engage their students in the issues that will shape their futures.

One of our core messages to these students is that each one of them can make a true difference in the world.

Membership in CGI is going to be a big boost to our education work, but reaching a million students is going to be one of our biggest financial hurdles to date. The cost of the entire program is $250,000. AMD and the 50x15 foundation have already come aboard as the first sponsor, but we have a long ways to go and need to raise that money sooner, not later.

Other news bringing attention to The Nobelity Project--- Gaming Pioneer Richard Garriott is taking Nobelity into Space. In October, when Richard blasts off in a Russian Soyuz rocket, he’ll be carrying the insights of our Nobel laureates to the International Space Station. The son of an astronaut, Richard has long carried the dream of going to space and we appreciate his willingness to use the journey and the publicity that comes with it to call attention to pressing global problems.

Back on my feet (and cane), as I write this blog, I am wingng my way to Kenya, then Ethiopia, to resume filming on One Peace at a Time. In Kenya, I’ll visit the SIDAREC/Slum Community Center, the winning project design of the Open Architecture Challenge, which I profiled in our short film, The Challenge.



I’ll also be at our partner project, The Mahiga Primary School, where donations by many of you have enabled us to build a water system with UV purification, an electrical system and a new computer learning lab in a new block of secure, stone classrooms. A special thanks to Julian Kink and all of his supporters in helping make this a reality.

I’m carrying a number of OLPC/One Laptop Per Child computers with me for the school and 50x15.org is setting the teachers up with a more powerful laptop for their work. I’ll bring back a report and photos of course, and I could not be more excited about being at the Mahiga school for the beginning of Fall classes in a school that’s better equipped to help them make their mark in the world.

I’ll also be visiting the first of our six well projects in Ethiopia. Thanks to each of you who’ve donated to support this important work through our partnership with A Glimmer of Hope. I hope we can do more water projects with Glimmer next year, but we have also set our sights on building a school.

Christy and I and the Nobelity Project Board of Directors are just launching a major fund-raising effort to enable all of this work. We are searching for five additional partner corporations, foundations or individuals who’d like to share the credit for the Million Student Initiative. We are also searching for annual underwriting of our series, Short Films for Big Changes, and though I don’t mention it often, the ongoing costs of all our film, education and development projects is one of our biggest challenges.

Christy is still talking about the donations that followed my last blog. The same day that she received a check for five thousand dollars, she opened an envelope and found a check for five dollars. Combined, those two donations were the perfect representation of the work we do and the way that we are supported by so many people who contribute what they can because they believe in our work and want to make a difference themselves.

Whether $5 or $5,000 (or $20 or $20,000), we’d love to have you as a partner in the work that we feel so fortunate to be doing.

To make a donation, click here:
http://nobelity.org/new_pages/donate.html
If you want to sponsor one of the big programs, we’d be happy to supply all the details.

One more shout out to Allen Hardin at UT Athletics who adopted my broken leg and put me through a summer of physical therapy UT football style. I wouldn’t be going to Africa without the work I’ve been doing with Allen.

I have to put my computer away. The captain says it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

One Peace at a Time,

Turk Pipkin
Somewhere over the Atlantic
September 1, 2008

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Short Films for Big Changes



Thanks for a great response to our partnership with A Glimmer of Hope to fund water projects in Ethiopia. If you’d still like to learn more or want to pitch in, scroll down to the previous blog. We've already funded six wells and would like to step it up next year by building a school.

And we already have more great news! The Nobelity Project is proud to announce the digital premier of One Child at a Time, our new film about the Miracle Foundation’s inspiring orphanages in India.

This is the second in our ongoing series, “Short Films for Big Changes.” The first in the series, The Challenge played at the World Economic Forum in Davos, in a giant global webcast from the TED Conference, and is now approaching 70,000 viewings on YouTube.

We hope that even larger numbers will view One Child at a Time, a beautiful 7-minute film which I shot over the past year during visits to Miracle Foundation orphanages, including the grand opening of the incredible Sooch Village model orphanage. There are 25 millon orphans in the system in India, and millions more living on the street, and we share the Miracle Foundation’s commitment to providing the basic rights to which every child on this planet is entitled.

A digital release means the film is available for anyone to watch free of charge. We think you’ll love this film and hope that you’ll be inspired to help us spread the word far and wide about this important work.

If you're inspired to sponsor an orphan in India or just want to learn more, go to www.miracle foundation.org.

And if you want to support our ongoing series, Short Films for Big Changes, you can make a donation to the Nobelity Project here:

http://nobelity.org/new_pages/donate.html


turk pipkin, June 8, 2008

p.s. Thanks to our editor Chet Hirsch, George O'Dwyer and all the folks at 501 Post in Austin for their great work on this beautiful piece. We could not have done it without them.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Glimmer of Hope


Nobelity Project Appeal - Help us provide clean water for rural communities in Ethiopia

Once again, there is exciting news from The Nobelity Project about our new film, One Peace at a Time.  And for the first time, we’re asking our supporters to be a part of our partnership with an organization that’s doing amazing work for a better world. I’m referring to A Glimmer of Hope, an Austin-based nonprofit that has transformed the lives of 2 million people in Ethiopia by providing clean water, schools, health care and economic opportunity. Read on and I’ll tell you how you can join us in this work.

The goal of One Peace at a Time is to highlight successful programs that are producing positive change through efficient and innovative programs. In the past year, I’ve filmed amazing work in India, Thailand, Bangladesh, Nepal, Ecuador and many other countries, but on my recent trip to Ethiopia, I was blown away by the scale, the efficiency and the passionate care with which A Glimmer of Hope is fulfilling a vital mission.

Ethiopia is an extremely rural country with a population of 75 million people living primarily on agriculture. The per capita income for the nation as a whole is about 35 cents per person per day. While the capital of Addis Ababa is pleasant and has a rapidly expanding economy, the rural areas have almost no infrastructure. Traveling with two Glimmer staffers and with representatives of a number of Ethiopian partner groups, Katie Pipkin and I spent many days filming and shooting photos at school, health care and veterinary posts in the remote South Omo region. Driving from project to project for 12 to 16 hours a day, we never saw a paved road, but we did meet thousands of people who turned out to welcome us in grand Ethiopian style at the dedication of new classrooms and other facilities.




Donna and Philip Berber, the founders of A Glimmer of Hope, have put tens of millions of dollars of their own money into this work, but the true key to their success is their philosophy of development from the ground up, rather than the top-down, heavy management and planning approach that has so often failed in Africa. 

“We start by visiting rural communities,” Philip Berber explained to me, “and simply ask what it is they need and way. Then we find local partner groups who have the know-how and the ability to help themselves if they’re provided with resources and capital.”

An extended tour of the Tigray region in Northern Ethiopia illustrated that point perfectly. This beautiful mountainous region was devastated by drought, famine and the Eritrean war – and we saw a fair number of soldiers and tanks still patrolling in the area. Among the partner reps we toured with was Tekelewoini Assefa or “Tek”, a hero of the Eritrean War who played a key role in saving half a million people from starvation by walking them from camp to camp on a three-month journey to refugee villages in Somalia. After the war, a similar effort from REST (the Relief Society of Ethiopia) brought these refugees home.

The long-term solution to famine and drought in Tigray stems from the work of groups like REST to bring clean water, education, health care and more to these wonderful people.

One afternoon, we parked atop a tall ridge and began hiking to the valley below to see a new hand-dug well that had been built in partnership between REST, A Glimmer of Hope and the local community of Bet Mekea. This was perhaps the tenth new well we’d seen, and we’d been greeted by incredibly moving ceremonies at all of them - by hundreds of children lined up to sing and clap hands for us; men dancing in circles as they chanted and proclaimed the great future that lay ahead because they now had water. Large groups of women who had selected representatives to tell us how local women – and children - had been walking up to six hours a day, carrying 60 or 70 crushing pounds of water in a jerry-can on their backs to supply water for their families. The hand-dug wells built with Glimmer had changed that forever. Those six hours per day were now time and energy that could be devoted to producing food and to earning an income. For the children, it meant there was now time to go to school for the first time in their lives. (And I saw quite a few 18-year-olds sitting by 7-year-olds in new first grade classrooms.)


And here’s the most incredible part – those wells were built for an average cost of $3,500 each. The simple fact that six dollars per person can literally transform the lives of a community of 500 people is one of the most profound and moving truths I have ever witnessed. This is possible because it is the people of these communities who do the work. The local people build a road by hand that will allow a truck to bring cement and a pump. They dig a well ten or twelve feet in diameter and perhaps sixty feet deep, and they dig it by hand. They line the well with rock and cement, and install a hand pump and chlorinator that they are trained to maintain. Because the water is clean, they are not plagued by illnesses like cholera. It’s been said that clean drinking water is the most important element in education.

At the bottom of the valley at Bet Mekea, the newly-completed well was protected by a sturdy rock wall, and herders with groups of donkeys and goats were bringing their animals to water. For a long moment, I looked up from my video camera and thought that it was the most beautiful spot I had ever seen. There was no visible town, but several dozen local people had gathered to break bread and share their homemade honey with us. 

Through a translator, I asked what was next for Bet Mekea. Did they need a school, a health clinic? Their answer surprised me in a very wonderful way. Yes, they hoped to build these facilities, but first, they were concerned about three neighboring communities who did not yet have clean water.

Their compassion and sense of justice was very moving to Katie and myself, and we made an immediate commitment for the Nobelity Project to find the money to fund these three wells for the villages of Grater (300 people), Grakubi (350 people), and Beles (250 people). 

This past weekend, the Nobelity Project staged a concert and fundraiser in Fredericksburg, Texas. This wonderful event was sponsored by Mark Shurley who won the auction at our January Austin event for a concert-at-home from the legendary Texas Band, The Flatlanders. With full band in tow, Joe Ely, Jimmy Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock rocked the house at Hondo’s on Main. Before the music started, we asked the crowd if they’d contribute to our wells in Ethiopia. Christy and I were hoping to fund at least one well (at approximately $3,500). Before the night was over, we had pledges to fund FIVE wells. 

This is incredible news for us, but there is one catch. The fifth well is a matching grant from Doug Richards, Dr. Mary Travers and the Foundation for Dreamers. To match that donation and complete funding for six wells, I’m asking each of our supporters to make a donation in any amount for clean water in Ethiopia. It doesn’t matter if you contribute a dollar or a thousand – either way, you’ll be a part of something truly grand! We’ve set up a special donation button for these wells on our donation page, or you can make a donation by check. Just click here.

http://nobelity.org/new_pages/donate.html

100% of these donations will go directly to A Glimmer of Hope and construction of the wells. Thanks for being an important part in our efforts to shine a light on solutions that work. By working together, we truly can build a better world, One Peace at a Time.

Turk Pipkin, May 13, 2008

MORE GREAT NEWS

The Nobelity Project’s film on The Open Architecture Challenge is a huge hit! “The Challenge” played at the World Economic Forum in Davos, at the TED Conference during their live global webcast, and has almost 70,000 viewings online at youtube.

Our deepest thanks goes to Caroleen Feeney and FACT for their contribution of $35,000 to the Kallari Association in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador. These funds that have already been used to purchase the land for Kallari’s organic chocolate factory which will support their work to preserve the rainforest. This was the first of many great things to come from “The Challenge.”

On June 1, I’ll be in Capetown, South Africa for the 50x15 Partners Summit and the World Economic Forum Africa, and we’ll be announcing the winning design and community from the Open Architecture Challenge!

I’ll also be continuing to Kenya to visit our partner school, the Mahiga Primary School, where work is underway on a rainwater collection system to provide clean drinking water, on an electrical system, and on a sturdy and secure new classroom that we hope will soon house a computer learning lab for the school. Thanks to AMD and 50x15 for their efforts there, to Julian Kunik and everyone else who’s made a contribution (and we’re still looking for donations to fund the new computers).

Next Month – watch for the official release of “One Child at a Time” our new short film about the Miracle Foundation orphanages in India. This film includes our journey by train with 120 orphans for the grand opening of the beautiful new Sooch Village Orphanage.

In the meantime, you can learn more about The Miracle Foundation at:

www.miraclefoundation.org

And don’t forget to check out A Glimmer of Hope at:http://www.aglimmerofhope.org/.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Texas Artists Step Up for the Nobelity Project

The past few months at The Nobelity Project have been nonstop travel, shooting, editing and fundraising. We’ve made great progress on our new film, One Peace at a Time, and have been looking for an opportunity to share that progress with the nonprofit’s many partners and supporters.

On Sunday, January 27th, the Nobelity Artists and Filmmakers Dinner, was an incredible evening at the Four Seasons Austin with 30 of our favorite Texas artists from the worlds of film, books and television and 250 of our closest friends and supporters. The evening was a turning-point fundraiser for the new film, and also for the Nobelity in Schools program, which continues to expand to classrooms across Texas and America.

Our artists/hosts for the dinner included Willie Nelson, Owen Wilson and Andrew Wilson, Harry Anderson, Mike Judge and many more. There was a gauntlet of cameras and reporters outside the event, and People Magazine got a scoop when the Dixie Chick’s Martie Maguire revealed that she and her husband Gareth are expecting their third child! That news ended up being the wire-service scoop of the evening.

Lance Armstrong had promised to drop by for the cocktail hour, but stayed for dinner and the show. Lance shared some words with Nobel Physics laureate Steve Weinberg, our guest of honor and one of the true geniuses of Nobelity. Recent Pulitzer Prize recipient Lawrence Wright led a continent of fine Texas writers.

One of the best things about the evening was that there was someone you wanted to talk to everywhere you look. I was welcoming Owen Wilson and his brother Andrew, when Owen looked across the room and said, “That’s Jimmie Dale Gilmore!” We couldn’t get through the crowd so one of my many missions became introducing Jimmie Dale to Owen. I was running around all night long between Christy’s and my table, the stage, the silent auction and the press area, so my apologies to those of you I didn’t speak to.

The cocktail hour was sponsored by Patron Tequila, Tito’s Vodka, Shiner Beer and Becker Vineyards. Global shipping causes a billion tons of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere, a global warming source greater than all the cars in the United States. Local consumption is an important way that all of us can live more lightly on the planet. In Texas, we are lucky to have Becker Vineyards making great wine from Texas grapes. And let’s face it, the Nobelity Project couldn’t be doing this class a fundraiser without the donations from these great local companies, or without the incredible support we got from the Four Seasons Austin. Thanks to all of you.

The evening began with my introducing the artists who were hosting each table, with the exception of my skipping my fellow actors from Friday Night Lights, Brad Leland and Ed Clements. Sorry about that guys.

Since most of the crowd had seen Nobelity, lively conversation ensued about the film and the issues we’re dealing with. And a steady stream of people started sneaking by Willie’s table to say hi. Lance is great Texas hero, but nothing tops the number of people who have some deep, personal connection to Willie. He may not know them, but they know him – whether it’s something nice he did for their grandmother in the fifties, or a message of peace he passed to their children this past Christmas, everyone has a connection to Willie.

I’ve been getting emails for the past week from people telling me how great a table host Sara Hickman was, or how cool it was to talk to Jaston Williams from Greater Tuna or Ricardo Chavira from Desperate Housewives.

I also invited 13-year-old Julian Kunik to the stage for a presentation from his incredible “Julian’s List” campaign to raise funds for the Mahiga Primary School in Kenya. Much more on Julian’s list (and a on the current political and economic crisis in Kenya in my next entry – click here).

We also had the American premier of a new short film from the Nobelity Project. Among the many solutions I’m profiling in the new film is a wonderful international competition called the AMD/Open Architecture Challenge. The Challenge is a global design competition with over 500 participating design teams around the world. In December, I traveled around the world with Dan Shine (VP of the 50x15 Initiative) and Cameron Sinclair (co-founder of Architecture for Humanity) to document the communities that will benefit from these designs.

The three projects are a community center and radio station in a Nairobi Slum, a telemedicine center in a remote area of Western Nepal, and an organic chocolate factory for 22 communities of Kichwa Indians in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador. The short film I made on the challenge premiered at the dinner in Austin, not long after the World premier at another dinner screening at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

We had a great response at both screenings. AMD has already put up a quarter million bucks to build the winning design of the Challenge, and we are hoping the film will generate sufficient funding to build all three projects. You can watch this new film, “The Challenge” by clicking here.





After the film, 94-year-old Blues piano legend Pinetop Perkins kicked off the show. Introducing Pinetop, I reminded everyone that he’d been playing the blues since 1927, and of course that he’d just been nominated for TWO Grammy awards. Pinetop was simply amazing.

My good friend, Harry Anderson was next. I met Harry thirty years ago at Armadillo World Headquarters and we’ve been pals ever since, including during his starring roles on Cheers, NightCourt and Dave’s World. “I was very big in the 80’s,” is how Harry puts it. Harry magic act included borrowing a hundred dollar bill from Willie, tearing it up and burning it and producing it from an envelope he’d passed to a woman in the audience at the beginning of the act. Willie loves a good laugh and got one and his hundred bucks back!

Bob Schneider was next up, starting his set with a beautiful solo version of World Exploded Into Love, his song that plays so powerfully in Nobelity. Thanks, Bob.



Finally, we had a show-stopping final set from Joe Ely, who was joined on his final songs by his fellow Lubbock musicians Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. The three of them brought the crowd to their feet, both for the great music, and also for the generosity of these three great Texas Musicians’ support of the Nobelity Project. Just before introducing Joe, I announced to the crowd that Joe, Jimmie and Butch had agreed to be auctioned off for a home concert by their original/now -legendary band, The Flatlanders.

John Paul DeJoria started the bidding off at ten grand – which about knocked me over – and the next thing I knew we had a four-way battle for The Flatlanders. Coming up with the dough to fund the Nobelity in Schools program and to make this new film has been quite a task, and when the bidding topped twenty grand, I was almost in tears. When all was said and done, I closed out the Flatlanders home concert at an incredible $31,000!

A deep and heartfelt thanks goes to Mark Shurley and his wife Cathy for this generous contribution, and to the Flatlanders for stepping up with your time and great music.

The Silent Auction was also a great boost. Kathy Harrison bought a couple of beautiful guitars, an acoustic Ibanez signed by Willie and a blonde maple Fender Strat signed by all the artists. There were donations from the Four Seasons Las Colinas and Houston, Hyatt Lost Pines, Doonbeg Resort in Ireland, Nike Golf and many others. Some of the hottest bidding was for framed photos from Nobelity and One Peace at a Time, and for Katie Pipkin’s digital paintings. We have a few more of the beautiful Nobelity Dinner photo books available for $50 each. Let us know if you want one.

If you were outbid on the photos or Katie’s artwork, and would still like a to buy one, let us know. You can check out Katie’s artwork by clicking on her painting below.



My last success of the evening was that I finally got to introduce Owen Wilson to Jimmie Dale Gilmore. Owen’s mom Laura Wilson had taken photos of Jimmie for Texas Monthly several years ago, and Owen was obviously a big fan. The two had a nice, long talk, and when Owen left, Jimmie said, “What a great guy! Who is that?”

Thanks everyone. With your help, we’re going to do our very best to show a better way ahead for all. I am off soon for Ethiopia to document the work of the Glimmer of Hope Foundation and to India for the grand opening of The Miracle Foundation’s new Sooch Village orphanage.

One Peace at a Time,

Turk Pipkin
February 10, 2008

About Me

My photo
People know me from different things I've done, and often seem to remember me from whatever I was doing when our paths first crossed. If you first saw me on television with Harry Anderson or doing stand-up comedy, you may be disappointed in my current level of funny. On the other hand, if you first saw me as that idiot narcoleptic guy in The Sopranos, I could really use a nap, so I'm still playing that part well. The last few years have been occupied by making three feature docs, Nobelity, One Peace at a Time, and Building Hope. All three were produced by our education and action nonprofit, The Nobelity Project (www.nobelity.org). I've also written ten books of fiction and nonfiction, most recently the NY Times bestseller, The Tao of Willie, co-authored with the very awesome Willie Nelson.