When you are alone

You will remember the people more than the place.

When you are alone for days or weeks at a time, you eventually become drawn to people. Talking to randos is the norm. I’ll never forget the conversation with the aquarium fisherman, forest ranger, and women at the Thai market. It’s refreshing to compare notes on life with people from vastly different backgrounds.

When you meet fellow travelers, you’ll find they are also filled with a similar sense of adventure and curiosity about the world. Five days of friendship on the road is like five months of friendship at home. It’s the experiences that bond you together, not the place. A rule I followed that worked well: be the first to initiate conversation. I met some incredible people by simply being the first to talk.

Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.

Travel can be affordable.

Long term travel is different than a luxury vacation. The point is to see the world, not stay in a 5-star hotel. During the trip, I stayed on a strict budget. The goal was to spend no more than $33 per day on accommodations. After a year, I was able to spend only $26.15 per day by booking through HostelWorld and Airbnb. When I wanted to meet people, I’d stay in a shared room at a hostel. When I wanted to be alone, I’d book a private room with Airbnb.

Take the cost of your rent or mortgage + food per month and divide it by 30. This is how much it costs per day to live at home. You will find that it’s possible to travel the world for roughly the same amount. Or, if you live in an expensive city like San Francisco, far less.

English is a universal language.

I was surprised how many people spoke English (apparently 1.8 billion people worldwide). Places where English was less prevalent, I made an effort to learn a handful of words and phrases in the local language. Even though it’s passable, I do desire to learn another language fluently. You can only take the conversation so far when all you can say is: “¿Esto contiene gluten?”

It’s possible to communicate a lot without saying a word. For instance, I left my phone at a restaurant in Chile. I pointed at the table where I was sitting, put my hand to my ear like a phone, then shrugged — 2 minutes later, my phone had been retrieved.

Trust your intuition.

I learned to trust that tiny voice in my head a bit more. When you are alone in a foreign country and your phone is dead, you are forced to trust your intuition. Is this neighborhood safe to walk around? Is this person someone I should interact with? Am I heading the right direction? Intuition is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. It’s feels like a sixth sense when you’re able to read between the lines of a situation.

The world is endless. The world’s a tiny neighborhood. My fav people are the ones who can hold two impossible ideas in their heads.

SXSW: Safe Space to Rock

Music, and the spaces it occupies, has often been a safe haven for those who feel they don’t belong—a place to express and feel without fear. But in 2016 alone, over 40 women were assaulted within a week at music festivals, an entire state told trans artists and fans they weren’t welcome in facilities, and LGBT nightlife was the center of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.


Our executive director, Jessica Raven, will be at SXSW today on a panel with Sadie Depuis, of Sad13 and Speedy Ortiz, and Jade Payne, of Aye Nako, to discuss harassment in the music scene and solutions to ensure the music community is a safe, accessible space for people of all genders and sexual orientations.

Kate Ida of femchord will moderate the conversation on tactics for combating harassment at music venues and festivals.

Sadie Depuis and Jade Payne bring insight as artists themselves and from their work to create spaces that are inclusive and safe for fans at shows. Jessica will share her experiences from CASS’s Safe Bars initiative that trains bar staff in bystander intervention strategies, and discuss how this work can extend to venues and festivals to promote a safe space for both artists and attendees.

“Unwanted sexual attention, including harassment and groping, is all too common in bars and clubs,” said Jessica Raven. “Sexual aggressors may use these environments to select, isolate, and even incapacitate their targets. Bar owners, managers, security personnel, and other staff are in a unique position to prevent sexual assault—and our Safe Bars program works to train them on tactics to stop harassment and make nightlife safer.”

Happen to be at SXSW (lucky!)? Here are the details:

Panel Details: Safe Space to Rock: Combating Harassment in Music
March 17, 2017 2:00-3:00 pm (CST)
Austin Convention Center, Room 15
We’ll also be covering the conversation on Twitter. Join in at @SafeSpacesDC between 3-4pm.

2016 Was Our Most Impactful Year Yet.

Not to oversell it or anything, but 2016 was an INCREDIBLE year for CASS

In 2016, we made bars in DC safer — and traveled to cities across the country (and Canada!) to help start Safe Bars programs in those cities. We raised a lot of money — over $17,300, in fact — thanks to you, to start the ReThink Masculinity program. We helped build the End Street Harassment Coalition, more than 20 local organizations in DC. We worked with WMATA to help make public transit safer for everyone with an inclusive ad campaign. We became one of the founding members of the DC Justice for Muslims Coalition, a local working group tackling Islamophobia, and we joined a new coalition led by HIPS to support sex workers’ rights. We trained more than 300 community members to respond to harassment and use bystander intervention strategies to de-escalate aggressive situations.

But none of this work to build a community free from street harassment would be possible without YOUR help — our DC community — with your time, your expertise, your dollars, and your commitment to helping us make our city safer for everyone.

Check out our online 2016 annual report to learn more about our awesome year — or check out the PDF version

Real time design tools

posted in: Lifestyle, Travel | 0

Just the other day I happened to wake up early. That is unusual for an engineering student. After a long time I could witness the sunrise. I could feel the sun rays falling on my body. Usual morning is followed by hustle to make it to college on time. This morning was just another morning yet seemed different.

Witnessing calm and quiet atmosphere, clear and fresh air seemed like a miracle to me. I wanted this time to last longer since I was not sure if I would be able to witness it again, knowing my habit of succumbing to schedule. There was this unusual serenity that comforted my mind. It dawned on me, how distant I had been from nature. Standing near the compound’s gate, feeling the moistness that the air carried, I thought about my life so far.

I was good at academics, so decisions of my life had been pretty simple and straight. Being pretty confident I would make it to the best junior college of my town in the first round itself, never made me consider any other option. I loved psychology since childhood, but engineering was the safest option. Being born in a middle class family, thinking of risking your career to make it to medical field was not sane. I grew up hearing ‘Only doctor’s children can afford that field’ and finally ended up believing it. No one around me believed in taking risks. Everyone worshiped security. I grew up doing the same.

This is what has happened to us. We want the things we have been doing forcefully to fail. And then maybe people around us would let us try something else or our dreams. We are accustomed to live by everyone else’s definition of success. We punish people for the things they are passionate about, just because we were unable to do the same at some point in our life.

I feel like these concrete buildings have sucked our desires and our dreams. We are so used to comfort that compromise seems like a taboo. We have lost faith in ourselves. If we can make through it right now, we can do the same in the days to come. You only need a desire to survive and nothing more- not money or cars or designer clothes.

Staying locked up in four walls have restricted our thinking. I feel like our limited thinking echoes through this wall. We are so used to schedules and predictable life that we have successfully suppressed our creative side.

When you step out of these four walls on a peaceful morning, you realize how much nature has to offer to you. Its boundless. Your thoughts, worries, deadlines won’t resonate here. Everything will flow away along with the wind. And you will realize every answer you had been looking for, was always known to you.

It would mean a lot to me if you recommend this article and help me improve. I would love to know your thoughts!

#MuslimBan 2.0

Editor’s Note: The note below was distributed by the DC Justice for Muslims Coalitions. Collective Action for Safe Spaces is proud to be part of the Coalition. We hope you will join us in rallying against these unjust bans. 

At 11:30 AM this morning, President Trump signed an Executive Order putting Muslim Ban 2.0 into effect. The new ban, which advocates are vowing to fight, blocks non-citizens from Sudan, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. Additionally, refugees are barred from entering the country. The new #MuslimBan excludes Iraq on the list of countries from which entry is halted and also refrains from singling out Syrian refugees in particular. Despite these changes to the new Executive Order, make no mistake, that this Ban is designed to continue the precedent of the War on Terror as a set of laws and policies that target Muslims while relying on the rationale of collective responsibility.

We will fight back until #MuslimBan 2.0 is revoked. Want to help us and take action against #MuslimBan? Join us tomorrow, Tuesday, March 7th, at Customs and Border Protection at 8 AM for a rally.

NoMuslimBan 2.0: Rally at Customs and Border Protection
Where: Customs and Border Protection, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Date and Time: Tuesday, March 7th, 8:00-9:00 AM
RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1633634166945319/

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