We had the good fortune of connecting with Jan Phillips and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jan, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I always wanted to be my own boss. I had a brain that enjoyed marketing as much as the creative process, so I was well suited to succeed. I could spend half the day generating something useful, creative and fun, then spend time on developing the marketing plan to sell and promote it.,
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I started out as a photographer activist in 1975 photographing the burgeoning women’s movement and the rise of the LGBT community. From 1983-84 I made a peace pilgrimage around the world showing my slideshow of the U.S./Canadian movements for peace and nuclear disarmament. I saved $5000, brought 200 rolls of film and traveled until I ran out of money in 12 months. I relied on the kindness of strangers and was given hospitality by Buddhists, Shintos, Hindus, Muslims, Israelis, Chinese communists and Filipino Marxists. Everything I know about global faith traditions I learned from the people who sheltered me. The journey transformed me from a social activist to a spiritual contemplative and my first book, Making Peace, documents this transformation. All my other books (10 in total) encourage a rethinking of our creativity, spirituality and power as agents of change in this world. As a speaker and facilitator, my aim is to dissolve peoples’ inner voices that say “I can’t. I’m afraid,” and turn up the volume on the voices that say “I must. I will.” The main lessons I’ve learned are these: 1. We’ve got the whole world in our hands. There is no divine being who is going to swoop down and save us from our greed and negligence. 2. We are the help. It is useless to wait for someone to come and help us out of the predicaments we’ve created. The Boomers are leaving a devastated, fractured world to the Millennials and this is a travesty. We should all find some way to dig in and heal what we’ve destroyed. 3. There is nothing to forgive. Every incident in my life happened as much FOR me as it did TO men. No one is to blame. If I harbor resentment, anger, hatred for those who hurt me, it causes me more suffering than it does them. I release everyone. I am grateful for every moment of my life, even the darkest most lonely hours.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would pack an old-fashioned picnic lunch and take them to the beach at La Jolla, on the cliffs near the seals. And to the Prado at Balboa Park for a margarita. I’d give us half a day at Balboa Park, time to visit all the museums and see an IMAX movie. I’d take them to the Midway because I’ve always wanted to go and haven’t got there yet. We’d snorkel at La Jolla Cove, then hike at Torrey Pines. We’d go to Point Reyes and to Birch Museum to see the seahorses and sea dragons.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Ruth Westreich, president of Westreich Foundation, underwrote the book The Art of Original Thinking—The Making of a Thought Leader which led to several awards and national speaking engagements. As a visionary philanthropist, Ruth has supported my work over the years as I have hers. We are both visual artists and use images in our activism for a more just world. Together we created the coffee table book, Finding Ourselves on Sacred Ground, and Creativity Unzipped—Why Your Thoughts Matter.