Kathy Eldon is more than just a mom and a grandmother. She is a teacher, journalist, author, film and television producer, and founder ofCreative Visions, an organization that supports creative activism globally. Every inch of her embodies LOVE.
I had the joy of sitting down (six feet away, of course) with Kathy to learn more about her life this week.
I first learned about Kathy through her son Dan. While at Parsons School of Design in 1998, I picked up Dan’s photo journal book,The Journey Is The Destination. I was transfixed with the imagery from his life in Kenya, the raw collages, wiry humor, and philanthropic spirit. I was immediately inspired to travel to Kenya one day. While I never had the privilege to meet him, he was always an inspiration.
In 1993, Kathy lost Dan when he was killed in Somalia while working as a photojournalist on assignment. What was a horrible tragedy that no mother should ever go through, emerged as an opportunity to make Dan’s memory lasting and an inspirational tool for change. Kathy believes, “Where there is violence, let there be a move to peace, where there is anger, let there be forgiveness, where there is chaos, harmony and where there is hatred, let there be love.”
Let’s talk about Dan for a moment. Dan was a creative activist who used photography to tell stories that ignited action. While Dan’s unique talent enabled him to do incredible work, Kathy wants people to know that “It is never just one individual. Dan was surrounded by an extraordinary community of creative people and activists.” When Kathy and Dan lived in Kenya, they both learned from remarkable Kenyan storytellers—from the artists, sculptors, journalists, humanitarians, to the philanthropists.
Kathy says, “A little rubbed off on Dan from everyone we had the privilege of meeting. Kenya was a formative place for my whole family. The attitude, can-do spirit, not just in Kenya but Africa, is the formation of who and how I am, in my children as well.”
As a mother and grandmother, Kathy takes her role as a matriarch role model very seriously. I wanted to learn more about how she identifies as a mother and activist, in one.
First: mother. I asked her what her favorite thing was about being a mom.
She said, “It’s seeing my kids care about others, being an example to others—through kindness and caring. It was beautiful to see my son Dan inspire people to be more of who they are, achieve their potential for themselves and others….seeing Amy step out of Dan’s shadow after he was killed and step into the light and be an exemplary being of compassion and empathy. That gives me the greatest joy of all...seeing an individual make an impact on the people around them. That’s what matters to me. I’m proud of them beyond measure.”
Next: activist. Kathy said, “Every mother is a creative activist—it means to care about things in the world around you. To open your children and grandchildren’s eyes to what’s happening, whether it’s a person experiencing homelessness on a street corner who you can positively impact through a smile or an offer of help. Teach children by modeling yourself as an example to care, but not just care, act. You mustbe it, it’s not enough to say it. If mothers are passionate about things that matter, children will usually follow.”
We dove into the topic of social justice, what it means, and how we can teach our children.
Kathy explained, “Social justice means being caring, being kind, and being fair. Kids hate things that aren’t fair, but if we can take that anger and sense of injustice, we can roll it out and look at the world around us, and we can say ‘Hey, does that seem fair?’ If we look at people being targeted because of their race, religion, or culture, we can ask ‘Hey, does that feel fair?’ Children are intrinsically wired to care about fairness. Whether it’s a size of a slice of chocolate cake or their bedtime, they want fair. Show them the inequality in the world around us.”
I asked Kathy what social issues fired her up at the moment. She said that it really depends on the day (which I can’t blame her!). She’s exposed to every social issue under the sun while working with Creative Visions. She shared, “Ultimately, we need to recreate a world that works for all. Not just the top 1%. This is where I’m committed to being an active force in storytelling around this world we wish to create.”
Finally, we asked her the most important question, what does LOVE mean to you?
Let’s reflect and celebrate this extraordinary mom and activist by taking a deep breath and digesting this final thought:
“Together, let us transform the intense pain of loss into a new sense of commitment to the raising of the consciousness of every person on this planet, with the objective of creating a new permanent peace, both inside and out, to heal at last, the wounded hearts and minds of us all.” -Kathy Eldon
Founder, Love is Project
P.S. Let us know in the comments how this piece resonated with you! What was your favorite part? What else would you like to learn from Kathy?
P.S.S. Expect to see more from Kathy and Creative Visions here at Love Is Project. We smell some future collaborations a-brewin.' ; )
Here are a few photos from our visit!
Me and Kathy! I couldn’t visit her empty-handed so I brought along The Greatest Love Story Ever Told. Also, we unintentionally color-coordinated (LOVE it when that happens).
For Kathy’s granddaughter, Arabella, “LOVE is chocolate ice cream.” Kathy loves playing with Arabella.