I met Jen Marlowe when we were counselors together at Seeds of Peace summer camp in the woods of Maine. Jen’s the kind of person who invests deeply in everyone around her and everything she does. She shows her heart and how much she cares about improving our world through her many projects! Jen is a community builder, a collaborator, a communicator, and a leader. If you ever need inspiration about what just one person can accomplish through dedication and passion, check out Jen’s past and current work, which is showcased on her website, Donkeysaddle Projects.
Wow! Just one click and you’ll be impressed at how many different important projects Jen has created to raise awareness of so many societal issues! Jen describes her work as an “intersection between art/storytelling and social justice,” and that’s exactly what she does.
Jen and her team have covered the Arab Spring uprising (and repression) in Bahrain, with an award-winning documentary called “Witness Bahrain.” She snuck across the border to North Darfur in 2004 to interview refugees, creating both a film and a book about her insights, and in 2007 she followed the journey of three South Sudanese “lost boys” as they returned home. And in particular, Jen has created so many important pieces on Palestine, illuminating different perspectives and stories that help to raise awareness of the costs of continued conflict and humanize Palestinians who are seeking lives of justice, dignity, and peace. Jen helped Sami Al Jundi, a former Palestinian prisoner-turned-peacemaker, tell his story; highlighted a resilient Palestinian family in the aftermath of the 2009 Gaza conflict (and has followed continued conflict in Gaza since then); and even begun a grassroots distribution project for Palestinian families in need.
Jen’s most personal project for me is her work exploring the murder of 17-year-old Asel Asleh, who was a Palestinian participant in the Seeds of Peace program, entitled “There Is a Field.” This title is from a quote by Rumi, a 13th-century Sufi mystic and Persian poet, who wrote:
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make any sense.
Jen cares deeply about issues affecting us at home in the United States too. Her company has helped produce fundraisers for front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic (“Justice Beats”). Jen highlighted the story of Troy Davis through a book, stage production, and film to draw attention to the need for death penalty and criminal justice reform. And a current work-in-progress focuses on immigration laws and the human costs of family separation and deportation.
Jen’s own words, from a recent fundraising email, show her thoughtfulness and passion for her work!
In mid-June , I watched my youngest niece graduate from high school, filled with excitement for the next step on her life journey. Five weeks later, I was holding my father’s hand as he took his last breath, transitioning from this world to whatever lies beyond.
Profound contrast, I have come to realize, is what gives life shape and contour—and it’s at the core of Donkeysaddle Projects’ work.
We amplify stories of deep trauma, injustice, violence and loss. Yet, what makes those stories so impactful is the humanity they reveal: the strength, beauty, hope, resilience and power of people resisting oppression and insisting on nothing short of liberation, dignity and basic rights.
Reinforcing strength, beauty, resilience, hope and power in the face of injustice and pain—this is, in essence, what we do at Donkeysaddle Projects. This is how we help build a world that uplifts the best of humanity.
This is how we get free.
If you are impressed and want to donate to Jen and her team at Donkeysaddle, you can make a direct (non-deductible) donation to Donkeysaddle Projects here, or a tax-deductible donation via their fiscal sponsor, Fractured Atlas, here.
Thank you, Jen and Donkeysaddle Projects, for making the world a better place!