In the pause: I’ve never been more proud to be a writer than I am today

I had the most amazing day today at the Newseum’s #TrumpandthePress event. I expected the event to be incredible, and it exceeded my expectations in every way. I feel curious, hopeful, and abundantly motivated by everything I learned. My head is swimming with ideas about media, journalism, and my own personal writing journey. I’m letting all of it turn over in my mind for a bit and promise to post my thoughts on Friday to round out the week.


In the pause: We’re all hanging on

One of my elderly neighbors: “How you doing, young lady?”
Me: “I’m doing well. How are you?”
Neighbor (laughing): “Hangin’ on, baby. Hangin’ on. You know what I mean?”
Me: “Yes. Yes, I do.”

Lately I’ve felt like we’re all hanging on through the insanity that is this world today. And while that might sound dire, I think it’s actually beautiful in its own way. Over the past few months, I’ve had so many honest and passionate conversations with friends and strangers alike. For better or for worse, the state of our country has opened us up to speak our minds and to hear from others, too. We’re figuring out what really matters. We’re informed. We’re involved. And we’re staying that way. Hang on, friends, to each other and to what matters to you. This will all be worth it.




In the pause: Mr. Trump, let me use my design thinking experience to help with Mexico

I wrote this letter to Donald Trump. And then I sent it to every senator and congress person I admire and respect since I don’t have any voting representation as a D.C. resident. I figured it can’t hurt and it might help. I understand that this will likely fall on deaf ears. I write it not for any recognition but because I think we can and must do better than a wall and a 20% tax. Mexico is our dear friend, neighbor, and second largest trading partner. If this relationship falls apart, it could very well be a lynchpin to our economy and society. The consequences are literally painful to me, and I can’t just watch it happen without saying something, without trying to do something right now. I have too many friends living in Mexico and living here in the U.S. who are from Mexican descent. I posted this on Facebook and was roundly criticized for writing this letter by a few people. I stand by the suggestion that design thinking can save this relationship before it’s too late.

“Dear Mr. Trump,
As a fellow Penn alum, I’m hoping that I can help with the U.S. relationship with Mexico. I know that there are people who want you to build a wall, but I have a cheaper, more effective solution. I hope you’ll be open to hearing it.

What we need to do in Mexico, as in many areas of policy, is to discover root causes and treat them. Building a wall on the border with Mexico, while it may look like progress, is not. It is a bandaid that treats the symptom; what we need to do is work with Mexico to treat what’s ailing that nation and its economy.

As a business woman, product developer, and someone who believes and works in the design thinking space, what we need is a discovery process. Why are people from Mexico coming to the U.S. illegally? And then to go a step further, what would it take for them to want to stay in Mexico? That latter question is the difficult one to answer, but I promise you that it holds rich rewards. While we may assume that we know all of the answers to why people come to the U.S. illegally, I have often found that a design thinking project uncovers reasons we never even imagined were possible. The only way to get that learning is to sit down and listen to people. Ask open-ended and high-quality questions, and then let them tell you about their lives and what’s painful for them. Then, heal those pain points through collaborative efforts.

In this case with Mexico, we’d not only save money and develop a better solution, we’d also improve the lives of countless people. And isn’t that what we all want? Don’t we all want a world that’s peaceful and prosperous? Don’t we all want to leave this planet a better place than we found it? Isn’t that the very basis of humanity and the purpose of life? I’d like to think that you share this belief, and that your advisors do as well. I can help.

I’ll make you a deal. I’ll do this project for free. I don’t need a dime. I’ll donate all my time, efforts, and talents. I’ll quit my job tomorrow and do this if given the chance.

Thanks for your consideration,
Christa Avampato”


In the pause: A shout out of thanks and gratitude to the men who supported the Women’s March

Thank you to all of the men, and especially my male friends, who supported the women’s marches all over the world. I’m grateful for all of the efforts you made to support the marches in a myriad of ways—for being at the marches, for taking care of kids so the women in your life could march, and for every text and social media message of support. It is all appreciated more than you know. I’m lucky to have you in my life. Thank you for being on this journey, for courageously standing up for women (especially in situations when men are saying and doing things that are disrespectful), and for raising your voices with ours. The world needs more of you.


In the pause: 26,034 steps for women everywhere – the Women’s March in Washington, D.C.

I walked 26,034 steps at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. yesterday. Now multiply that by the minimum estimate of 500,000 people who attended the march. That gets us to 13,017,000,000 steps by D.C. marchers, which equates to circling the entire globe 198 times. And that’s just in D.C. Now amplify that by the 4 million people in 600+ cities all over the world who were marching with us and we get 104,136,000,000. That’s 1,584 times around the Earth. We literally wrapped the world in freedom, justice, and equality. This march was not about putting America first. This march was about putting people, all people, first. We lifted our voices and moved our feet without a single moment of violence or insecurity, and with hardly any security. This was a peaceful, uplifting, and hopeful day in all of these cities and towns in which we showed the whole world what democracy looks like. This is what concerned, committed individuals can do when we band together with love, respect, and courage.

And somewhere in that crowd are all of the future leaders of our countries, of our future. Somewhere in that crowd is the first woman who will be President of the United States. The first Latina and Latino Presidents. The second black President. The first LGBTQ President. The first Jewish and Muslim Presidents. The people who will lead our country through nonprofit organizations and as leaders in for-profit companies.

My friends, that crowd that you are all a part of is the future. That is where we are and where we’re going. Don’t lose heart. Don’t be silent. Don’t shut down or become numb. Don’t turn away or run away from the difficult days and nights ahead. Every day, I want to wake up in a world that looks like yesterday. That joy and passion will drive out the hate that may have won the electoral college but did not win the hearts of the majority of this nation.

We are the majority. And on the long and winding road of history, the majority eventually always wins. Always. We may go through horrendous times. We may have to descend into deep valleys to make the climb toward the highest peaks, but let it be known by everyone everywhere that no single person will ever stand in our way on the path of progress.


In the pause: January 21, 2017, will be remembered as the day we gave an additional meaning to boots on the ground

January 21, 2017, will be remembered as the day we gave an additional meaning to boots on the ground. This is the day that people, women and men, all races, all creeds, from all over the world came together, organized, and marched for equity, justice, freedom, and health. This is the day we took to the streets together for women’s rights, which are after all human rights, and vowed to one another that we will not stop until these rights are secured for all and forever. That is the goal I am dedicated to and I will use every breath and step I have remaining to turn it from a dream into a reality.


In the pause: Chapter 2 of the Breaking Bread Podcast

If I have to live through four year of this new administration, then I’m turing it into art. It’s the only way I can bear it. In this chapter of the Breaking Bread Podcast, Mina meets her nemesis in Trumpville for the first time and her resistance is born.


In the pause: The future takes time

If you ever grow weary over this next four years, I want you to remember that our present situation is not our future. The tide is already turning. And while this present moment seems almost unbearable, know that the majority of America believes in a brighter, better way. Our only job is to hold the space until tomorrow is today. The future takes time.



In the pause: What you need to know during a protest, demonstration, or march

I know many of us will be participating in marches and protests this week and in the weeks, months, and perhaps years ahead. I’ll be at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. I haven’t participated in anything like this before so I did a lot of research to be prepared. I wanted to pass this on to you and your friends and loved ones who may also be protesting so that we can be both safe and informed. Please feel free to share and repost. It is a lot of information but it is critical for you to have it. I’ve broken up the information into categories to make it easier for you to scan. Some of it I suggest you print out and bring with you as noted below. Though some of it applies directly to the D.C. Women’s March, much of it is applicable for any protest. (Here is a list of sister marches that are happening in every U.S. state and across 6 continents: A sincere and heartfelt thank you to all of you who are standing up and speaking out to protect the rights of all people. Now is the time for action and I appreciate, applaud, and honor each of you who are engaged in the process of social justice.

Meeting spots and pre-march info:
1.) I am gathering a people in the lobby of my D.C. apartment building between 9:00am and 9:15am on Saturday the 21st. At 9:15am, we’ll walk to the starting point of Independence Avenue and Third Street SW (a little over a mile from my apartment). If you’d like to join us, or have friends who would like to join us, please send me a message and I’ll send you my address and cell number. The event begins at 10am. The march is not just for women. Everyone is welcome to participate in the march and I’d love to have you join us. It’s always better to march with buddies.

2.) Please fill out this form to say you’re going to the march so that they have enough relief stations, food trucks, and medical services for everyone.

What to bring (and not bring) with you:
3.) Bring your charged phone, identification, a little cash, and a credit or bank card so that you can buy water and food as needed. It’s a long event and you need to stay hydrated and satiated. I’m also bringing a small water bottle as well as a small stash of medical supplies like bandaids, asprin, Neosporin, etc. Don’t count on being able to have any cell signal. Because of the projected size of the crowd, it is very likely that reception will be spotty at best during the march. D.C. has spotty cell reception to begin with. I plan to turn off my location and have the phone in airplane mode for safety reasons.

 4.) The organizers have worked very hard to make this a peaceful event so let’s do our part to support peaceful, nonviolent action. If you run into any legal issues during the march, there is a legal hotline: 202.670.6866. Write down important phone numbers on your arm such as the National Lawyers Guild hotline (212-679-5100) and friends or family members who can help you in an arrest or emergency situation. Again, I hope we don’t need this information though it is good to be prepared.

5.) No bag or a very small cross-body bag is the best bet for the march. Do not bring a large purse, backpack, or luggage of any kind. And of course, no weapons.

6.) Dress for the weather and weather very comfortable clothes. Right now, the weather is forecast to be 60 degrees and partly sunny, but make sure to check closer to the date so you dress appropriately.

7.) Signs are encouraged though please make sure they do not have sticks attached to them.

8.) Protests and marches are serious business. There is a time and place for being fun and silly; a protest is not that time and place. If you plan to take photos or video during the march, please be mindful of your surroundings and do not let your actions disrupt any of the activities. Let’s be present and mindful in the moment right where we are. If you post to social media, the hashtags for the march are #womensmarch #WhyIMarch #IMarchFor. Posting your support before and after the march is also an awesome way to get the word out and support and encourage others. The handle for the Women’s March is @womensmarch.

(About photography and videography during a protest from the ACLU): When you are lawfully present in any public space, you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and the police. When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs or video. Police officers may not confiscate or demand to view your digital photographs or video without a warrant, nor may they not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances. However, they may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations.

9.) There are places near the march route that have opened their doors and hearts to us throughout the day. These can be used as meeting spaces and rest stops. Have this printed in case you can’t get any cell signal: (list) (map)

10.) The ACLU has a double-sided demonstration guide with useful phone numbers and tips. I hope none of us need this but it is good to be prepared. Have this printed in case you can’t get any cell signal.

11.) Please get enough rest the night before the march, eat well the morning of, and do not drink alcohol before or during the march. It’s not safe for you or for anyone else.

12.) This is a peaceful, non-violent protest. Please be mindful of your words, actions, and reactions.

13.) There will be medical stations set up along the march route and there will be march volunteers and trained marshals to help you with anything you need. You will be ale to easily identify them. There will also be private security guards as well as police officers who will be able to help you in case of an emergency.

14.) Do not fight with other protesters in regards to their protest tactics, and know that there may be counter-protesters along the route. Do not engage with counter-protesters; this is not the time for letting emotions and tempers fly or for making smart remarks and retorts. Things can escalate very quickly in this type of circumstance and your actions could derail the meaning of the march. If someone says something offensive, ignore them and walk away from them.

15.) Stay off of people’s private property so you don’t get arrested for trespassing. Don’t litter or deface anyone’s private property. Don’t throw things. Don’t incite or participate in violence in any way.

16.) If you are stopped by the police or arrested (from the ACLU):
Stay calm, be polite, and don’t run. Don’t argue, resist, or obstruct the police, even if you are innocent or you believe that the police are violating your rights. In some states, you must give your name if asked to identify yourself, but you do not have to provide an ID or other paperwork. Make sure to keep your hands where police can see them. Point out that you are not disrupting anyone else’s activity and that the First Amendment protects your actions. Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away.

Do not resist arrest, even if you believe the arrest is unfair. If you are under arrest, you have a right to ask why. Otherwise, say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Don’t give any explanations or excuses. Don’t say anything, sign anything, or make any decisions without a lawyer. You have the right to make a local phone call, and if you’re calling your lawyer, police are not allowed to listen.

You never have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings. Police may “pat down” your clothing if they suspect you have a weapon, and may search you after an arrest. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to refuse consent for any further search. If you do explicitly consent, it can affect you later in court.

Remember: the street is not the place to challenge police misconduct. Don’t physically resist officers or threaten to file a complaint. As soon as you can, write down everything you remember, including officers’ badge and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses. If you are injured, take photographs of your injuries (but seek medical attention first). Once you have this information, you can file a written complaint with the agency’s internal affairs division or civilian complaint board; in many cases, you can file a complaint anonymously if you wish. You can also seek the assistance of an attorney or the ACLU.

More information:
17.) Women’s March website – in D.C. and sister marches across the globe

18.) Washington Peace Center

19.) ACLU

20.) Know Your Rights