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There are people that you will meet in your lifetime that have an aura of positive energy. When you spend any amount of time with them you somehow feel happier. Audrey Phillips, at just 24 years old, is one of those people. I was grateful to meet her recently and to learn about her inspirational project 365 Meaningful Conversations.
Audrey is a 2012 graduate of Woodinville High School and has been on quite an amazing journey the past few years. Although she’s done a bit of traveling with attending college in Maine, working as a ski instructor in Park City, Utah for a winter season, and working as a wilderness guide in Durango, Colorado, her journey has been much more than just moving from one locale to the next.
Audrey Phillips, Creator of 365 Meaningful Conversations (Courtesy photo)The journey she’s been on is one of building blocks of realizing she can make a difference, and she’s doing just that with colorful cards carrying inspirational quotes.
It all started when Audrey spent a summer as a camp counselor for IslandWood on Bainbridge Island. One of the activities she led was hiking combined with inspirational quotes. The kids would find a quote on the trail and the counselors would follow up to discover what the quotes meant to the kids. Often times, the quotes sparked deeper conversations with the kids and Audrey said, “It was a great introduction to nature and quotes.”
She admits she’s always loved quotes since she was a child so she loved this program and when she returned to school in the fall, expanded on it. “I am an avid doodler,” she said. So she started adding to the quotes she collected at camp and created colorful note-sized cards with custom handmade type fonts and fun images.
She would hang them up on the wall to display and soon she had 100 cards, then 150, and it kept growing to 200 cards. Audrey said “Then a woman I knew encouraged me to just go for it and make 365 cards [for a full year].”
Audrey’s favorite quote is “you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think” by A.A. Milne.
The quotes always seem to prompt a question or conversation so Audrey took things one step further by adding specific questions on the back of her cards as they related to the quote. She tested the cards when she worked as a wilderness therapy guide for at-risk teens and young adults. On a backpacking trip with the students, she was able to connect and spark vulnerable conversation using the cards. She discovered that many people feel lonely and crave a space to connect deeply, yet the space is very rarely opened up. These cards were helping to open the connections and the conversations in all subjects even those largely ignored in society like privilege, race, self-esteem, body image, grief, etc.
Processing this realization combined with a two-month outward-bound program that ended with three days of being alone in the woods, she developed her business plan.
She cleaned up her quote cards, contacted a manufacturer to produce the cards and presentation boxes, and decided to take 365 Meaningful Conversations Project on the road. The plan is purchase a van to travel across the country for 365 days. She wants to visit every state in the United States and within that state the capital, the biggest city, and the city/town with the lowest socioeconomic scale. She plans to host meaningful conversation events at coffee shops, schools, prisons, homes, colleges, etc. to spread the message that sharing vulnerability takes strength and can lead to deeper connections. Audrey will be hitting the road in August and plans to record the conversations with the hope of a book in the future.
To help fund the project, she has started a crowdfunding page on indiegogo.com. She’s raised close to $6,000 of her $18,000 goal. Anyone who supports the project will have the option to receive certain products (including the box of 365 cards with her handmade designs) once the project is fully funded. Audrey is funding part of the project on her own as well. “I feel grateful for the support I’ve received,” she said.
Audrey is currently working on building a presentation that can be used in middle schools while she is on the road. She is particularly interested in working with this age group of children to help them open up and become their authentic self without fear or shame.
I for one think Audrey is on to something and with her passion and caring demeanor she will make a difference. She ended with this thought, “Our world needs to connect. It can be scary but the whole world needs to connect.”
Want to be inspired? Follow “365Meaningful Conversations” on Instagram.
Want to support Audrey’s project? Visit her crowdfunding page: indiegogo.com/projects/365-meaningful-conversations--2/x/17002111).