The Nobelity Blog is a running series of reports on the film and education work of The Nobelity Project (, 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.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Feed the Peace - with Willie Nelson and more

What a crazy and emotional, wild and wonderful Spring it’s been for The Nobelity Project. A short update on my trip to Haiti and Mahiga Hope High is below, but first a report on our biggest event ever, The Artists & Filmmakers Dinner.

It was a stellar night at the Four Seasons Austin as 40 Texas stars joined us to honor Willie Nelson, to celebrate the DVD release of One Peace at a Time, and to complete principal funding of Mahiga Hope High School (okay, there are a few things left to fund, and we could use your donations at

The Four Seasons event began with photos of friends, and it was quite a list of friends. Here are John Paul and Eloise De Joria, Lyle Lovett and April Kimble, and Marjoe Gortner.

Bill Paxton flew in from L.A. and another season of his HBO show, Big Love. Ricardo Chavira got a day off from filming Desperate Housewives to attend with his wife Marcea.

We had nearly 500 people a the cocktail party and some competitive bidding on the auction items. Fender donated a Stratocaster that Jimmy Vaughn signed. Born Free Safaris had a trip to Kenya (that sold twice!) and there was even an Apple iPad loaded with Nobelity Project photos and music. We also want to thank Gibson Guitars and Strait Music for additional instruments that helped make the night a great success. Some of the hottest bidding was for our framed photos and for gorgeous paintings donated by Carlos Ortiz, Bale Creek Allen, Judy Marquez, MM Pipkin and the amazing Katie Rose Pipkin.

More thanks go to the Four Seasons Austin and all their amazing staff for great service, great food and for making it possible for a small nonprofit to put together a world class evening.

Speaking of world class, the biggest thanks of the night go to Annie and Willie Nelson for everything they've done for The Nobelity Project. Willie and Annie's dedication to the idea and reality of Peace is a great inspiration. When Willie told me to "Feed the Peace!" in One Peace at a Time, I don't think he knew he'd be naming his own award. But here's Christy handing Willie the Feed the Peace Award.

A couple of minutes later, Willie helped us present three more FTP awards to the Kunik triplets who raised $10,000 to fund the new kitchen at Mahiga Hope High School. Inspired by these amazing 13-year-old kids - and by Mickey Bice who'd contributed funds to build the Chemistry Lab at the high school - the crowd stepped up with some more big donations. In less than five minutes, we had commitments for the biology and physics lab, a dining room to go with the new kitchen, and to get things rolling on a new pre-school.

That put the real show onstage. We'd already seen show-stopping
performances from Kat Edmonson and Ruby Jane, and now Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Joe Ely and Ray Benson sat down and began to play their favorite Willie songs. Soon Willie joined in and before you knew it, 500 people were singing along to On the Road Again. Add in Texas jazz trumpet master Hannibal Lokumbe who managed to seque On the Road Again into Amazing Grace, joined by 20 more amazing Texas musicians, and you've got one unforgettable night.

Thanks to everyone who came out, and to our many wonderful sponsors: CSE and C3, Patron, Malibu Family Wines & Shiner Beer, Austin American Statesman & KGSR, Freeman, FILO Productions & Dynamic Reprographics, Four Seasons Austin and John Paul & Eloise DeJoria. And congrats to Mickey and Liz who got engaged during the dinner, with Willie handling the ring! And to Steve Prince for making that great connection to Mickey.

Speaking of work, I left the next day for Haiti where I toured school sites with Architecture for Humanity and Concern Worldwide. Even after all the reports I'd heard and seen, I could hardly believe the damage and the challenges the Haitian people are dealing with. Despite this, I came away feeling we can have a tremendous impact by rebuilding schools better than before. More info to come when we have budgets in hand, but take a look at these kids and ask yourself, “don’t they deserve better?”

In the meantime, check out our latest video which show one amazing day during construction of Mahiga Hope High School. Here is Building Hope - Foundations.

If you don't have a dvd of One Peace at a Time, order at or at Amazon. And don't forget to Feed the Peace!

About Me

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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 ( 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.