MoveShake: Shannon Galpin documentary premieres online tonight
Galpin, formerly a competitive mountain bike racer, became the first woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan in 2009, returned in 2010 to ride across the Panjshir Valley, and has launched several projects in that country, including a school for the deaf in Kabul, a partnership with the Afghanistan Women's Educational Center to work with women in prison, and Combat Apathy, an effort to give voice to women, youth and victims of rape, human trafficking and slavery in combat zones. For Galpin, the projects are personal: As the mother of a seven-year-old daughter, she has a strong conviction that women and girls everywhere deserve the same rights and opportunities as her own daughter. And, as a rape survivor herself, Galpin is committed to opposing any culture that tolerates or encourages rape and sexual abuse. In the coming year Mountain2Mountain will expand with projects in Mexico City and Phnom Penh, Cambodia, as well as Denver.
Westword recently caught up with Galpin to discuss the new film and the future of Mountain2Mountain.
Westword:Can you start by telling us a little about the MoveShakeseries and how you came to be involved?
What I love about this film and this film series is that it's really showing real individuals who are trying to affect change by working in areas that they're passionate about. Allie and Sarah have done a beautiful job of storytelling and really humanizing some major issues.
My story is about women's rights and human rights in conflict zones, and really looking at what's going on there and what it takes to do that work, but also what inspires me to do that work. I think a lot of people, if they think about human rights work in a place like Afghanistan -- or any of the big issues of our day, really -- consider it to be the work of big corporations and government organizations and NGOs to affect change, but the fact of the matter is it really does come down to citizen diplomacy and individuals standing up for what they believe.
I think it's great that MoveShake's been able to illustrate that aspect of any kind of activism, because the medium of film is so powerful. Meaningful change so rarely comes in big tidal waves, but there can be a ripple effect from getting these stories out there: If more people realize the humanity behind the bigger issues, hopefully more people will get engaged and realize that real change really is about one person at a time, everyone adding their drop to the bucket and filling it up drop by drop.
Another film in the MoveShake series, a portrait of Mexican sea turtle conservationist Julio Solis and his organization, Vigilantes Bahia Magdalena, premiered last month at Mountainfilm in Telluride and won an Honorable Mention for the Moving Mountains Award.
That was the first peek anyone had of the MoveShake series, and the response at Mountainfilm was phenomenal. I think that sets it up for having a lot more eyes on the whole series.
All of our work right now in Afghanistan is with the idea of women's rights being human rights and really fighting for those rights, particularly in conflict zones. We're continuing with our projects in Afghanistan with the school for the deaf in Kabul, which will serve 800 students -- there are thousands and thousands of deaf children in Afghanistan, for a number of reasons -- and our education projects working with young women and women in prison. We're also working on two women's Internet cafes in Zambia and Jalalabad, which are both outside of the Kabul "bubble" if you will, where there's a lot of aid and a lot of support. Both of those projects are connected to the work that we want to be doing in other conflict zones as we expand in the next year, dealing with human trafficking and slavery, sex trafficking, and women's rights.