Red Pants for the World
An army of young women out to alter the planet
Judi Romaine- Team Cincinnati, T1, Q4
“After surgery I was still in a lot of pain,” said Judi Romaine.
“I had bankrupted the identity I had. I used up everything that looked like possibility. I could decide to die.”
For a woman who has been active in Landmark Education for more than 30 years, this is a startling statement. Landmark Education produces courses to give people the tools to live powerful lives and lives that they love. It is all about possibility.
“Team was the last stand for transforming that [bankrupt identity],” said the Bloomington, Indiana author. So she joined Landmark’s Team Management and Leadership Program. (TMLP).
Among other things, TMLP equips participants with the skills to create teams and teamwork in any situation. Judi decided to use the skills to inspire “an army of young women living created lives out to transform the planet.”
Judi formed a team and they named themselves Red Pants for the World. According to Judi, “Red Pants became a metaphor for young girls and women who are out to make a difference and living lives where they are unconstrained.”
The idea came one night in September 2007, a year before she joined TMLP. Judi was sitting on her couch with a few friends and they were brainstorming ideas for a party. One of the lady’s jumps up and yells, “Let’s have everybody come to the party wearing red pants!”
The image of an army of women all wearing red pants at the same time hit Judi like a lightning bolt. She thought, “Yes, a cadre of women with the courage to wear red pants tells the world that they are bold, powerful and free.”
Where did Judi decide she could make the biggest difference? Half a world away. In the past few years there have been many stories in the news about Afghanistan. Judi was struck by all the images of women there who have not been allowed to express themselves.
The team’s goal is to raise $100,000 by 2012 for a school in Afghanistan. Red Pants for the World has formed a partnership with Nafissa, a woman who escaped from Afghanistan in the 1980s during the war with the Soviet Union.
Nafissa now lives in Paris and created Solidaire Provence Afghanistan, a non-profit whose objective is to help the most unprivileged Afghans and raise awareness on the Afghan culture in France. Red Pants has already raised $650 in online donations for the Solidaire Proveance to support the distribution of books in an Afghan village. (To protect the girls and women the name of the village cannot be disclosed.)
Red Pants hasn’t confined its work to just Afghanistan. The team provided a $500 microloan to a Cambodian woman who wanted to build a new house for her nieces and nephews after their parents died.
To raise money, Judi created an online store www.cafepress.com/redpants to sell and promote Red Pants for the World products like journals, note cards, bumper stickers, mugs and bags.
This August, Red Pants partnered with the Silk Road Institute – an Indiana-based non-profit led by an Iranian born professor. Silk Road Institute promotes self-expression and freedom through music.
Closer to home, Red Pants is working in Bloomington with abused women who have children. They are in the process of starting a writing group to enable the women to write their stories and share them with the world. Judi wants to “have these women lit up and seeing that they are fully expressed in the world and share it in a way that makes a difference for others.”
Red Pants is committed to publishing these stories on its blog, www.redpantslegacy.blogspot.com. As an author, Judi will assist the Red Pants girls in publishing their expressions in book form.
There’s another team in Elkhart, Indiana, a town that has the highest unemployment rate in the nation. In September 2009, Red Pants is starting an afterschool writing program for 6th grade girls in low-income neighborhoods. The objective is for these girls to build a Red Pants team that fulfills their individual visions.
Judi’s passion for giving women the ability to create bold, powerful lives stems from an incident 50 years ago, when she wasn’t much older than the 6th graders she is inspiring today. When she was 15 years old, Judi’s sister Gay was killed in a car accident. She was just 17. “Gay never got to fulfill on her life,” Judi said.
In that moment, Judi felt alone and decided she would live a life where she would be independent and not depend on anyone.
It was through her participation in TMLP, that Judi realized how her entire life was based on that incident. “I sentenced myself to the idea that I’m on my own.”
She created an isolated world designed to do things alone. As an author she works from home, by herself. And she has been successful living in the world she created, publishing three novels.
Since joining TMLP, Judi’s life has transformed. “Before TMLP, my notion of team was that everything funnels through the leader. Applying what I learned through TMLP, my neighbors have been coming to me. People are willing to be a team together to support each other.”
“Now, I have an expanded sense of knowing myself as someone who makes a difference in the world,” Judi said. “By myself I never would have tried to do any of this.”
She noted that the more she looks for examples of what she is standing for, the more it shows up. Recently, CNN ran a story about a 14 year-old girl in Pakistan starting a blog based upon her commitment to ending terror attacks in her country. She shares poetry, stories and news. “She’s being is a perfect expression of Red Pants showing up in the world,” said Judi.
Through Red Pants for the World, Judi has gone from a hospital bed, believing she had done all she could in life to a woman creating a legacy. She has given women globally the opportunity Gay never had – a world full of women expressing themselves, wearing red pants, and creating a life they love.
Written by Steve Schapiro & Don Murphy