Sunday, February 12, 2012

This Blog has been Moved

The Voices of Hope Productions blog is now incorporated into a new website. This blog serves as an archive of previous posts. Please go to for posts from February 2011 forward.

Please continue to look through this blog for content from 2006 to February 2011.

Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you at the Voices of Hope Productions website.

Lori H. Ersolmaz

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Breaking News: Governor Christie Officially Vetoed the LNG Project Today!

Ensures Healthy Sea and Economy for Future Generations

*Public Hearings NOT POSTPONED

Today is a great day for the ocean!

Demonstrating his commitment to protect New Jersey's coastal waters and natural resources, Governor Chris Christie today invoked his authority under the federal Deepwater Port Act, vetoing a proposed deepwater liquefied natural gas operation 16 miles off the coast of Asbury Park. The action prevents Liberty Natural Gas from constructing and operating its proposed offshore port to receive foreign vessels transporting liquid natural gas (LNG) to the U.S. for regassification.

"I take very seriously our obligation to protect the environmental health of our coastal waters,” said Governor Christie. “Offshore LNG poses unacceptable risks to the State's residents, natural resources, economy and security.  We must ensure that our 126 miles of shoreline remain an economic driver for tourism and that our fishing and shellfish industries remain healthy and productive now and for future generations.”

“This is a clear victory for the ocean,” said Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action. “It is our most treasured natural resource and it will now be free from harmful industrialization.”

“The ocean is the backbone of our state’s economy, it sustains and supports a multi-billion dollar tourism industry, provides endless hours of enjoyment on the beach and in the sea, and hosts a rich diversity of marine life. If we abuse it and put it in harms way our economy and way of life will diminish and ultimately collapse” furthered Zipf.

"The Governor’s veto today keeps New Jersey's eye on the prize -- environmentally and economically, we need to be developing clean renewable energy and becoming more energy efficient instead of relying on dirty and dangerous options like liquid natural gas on the Jersey Shore," said Dave Pringle, Director of the New Jersey Environmental Federation.

"The decision to veto the Liberty natural gas project protects the Jersey shore and decreases our reliance on fossil fuels. New Jersey is a leader in the renewable energy industry and the Governor's veto today helps us maintain this leadership position," said William Schulte, an attorney with the Eastern Environmental Law Center.

The next step, now that this latest battle is over, is to call upon our federal officials to step up and act to permanently protect our waters. They must pass federal legislation permanently protect our ocean waters off the New Jersey and New York coast from these and other types of harmful activities by making it a Clean Ocean Zone.

Offshore Liquified Natural Gas Project Background: Three liquefied natural gas import facilities were pending off the Jersey Shore: Liberty Natural Gas, four snake-like buoy/turret moorings off Asbury Park; Atlantic Sea Island Group, which proposed to build an island in the ocean off Sea Bright, NJ; and Exxon Mobile’s Blue Ocean Energy project which was planning to install an experimental massive storage facility off Sea Girt. Following the Governors announcement, and changes to the global LNG market, the latter two companies withdrew their plans last year. Only Liberty Natural Gas proceeded, taunting the Governor’s promise of a veto.

Resources and Links

Governor Christie's Release

Governor Christie's Statement

Thank Governor Christie and DEP Commisioner Bob Martin for keeping their word and stopping Liberty Natural Gas and all LNG projects off NJ and NY.


By mail or phone:
Office of the Governor
PO Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625

Bob Martin, Commissioner
401 E. State St.
7th Floor, East Wing
P.O. Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Find out more about Clean Ocean Action

Keep our ocean wild & industry free!

Stay informed and involved in future Clean Ocean Zone activities.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Hearings about LNG Projects in NJ - Wed 1/9 and Thurs 1/10

Public hearings are scheduled to gather public comments on the Liberty Natural Gas LNG project. Liberty Natural Gas is a project proposed to import foreign LNG off the coast of Asbury Park. The gas will come onshore via a pipeline through the Raritan Bay into Perth Amboy, Woodbridge, and Carteret to the main gas hub in Linden.

This project will industrialize the ocean, allowing a dirty and expensive foreign fossil fuel to be brought to our shore, putting us at risk.

Please Come to the Hearings and Be Heard! 

Wednesday, February 9th
Long Branch Middle School, 350 Indiana Ave
Long Branch, NJ 07740, (732)-229-5533

Thursday, February 10th
NJ Convention & Exposition Center, 97 Sunfield Ave
Edison, NJ 08837, (732)-417-1400

All meetings will have an open house with informational displays from 5-6pm and a comment period will begin at 6:30pm and last until all comments have been heard.

Although the meetings will begin at 6:30pm you should plan to get there by 5:30 in order to get a seat. There is an open house with informational displays from 5 to 6pm. Clean Ocean Action and their coalition partners will be having a press conference and rally before the hearings in Long Branch and Edison.

This is your chance to speak out for the ocean and oppose this harmful energy plan. Liquid natural gas (LNG) threatens our environment, our wallets, our safety, our energy security, and our way of life.
Please RSVP for the meetings!

Details About Liberty Natural Gas Project:

• 4 underwater snake-like turrets that will scour and damage up to 76 acres of seafloor habitat,

• LNG Tankers up to 4 football fields long,

• Located at the gateway to the Port of NY/NJ- raising serious threats,

• Sources of LNG include Libya, Tunisia, Trinidad & Tobago,

• Three-foot wide industrial pipeline coming onland through one of the most densely populated areas in the region.

WHY LNG is NOT in Our Interest:
• LNG is up to twice the cost of domestic natural gas,

• LNG is up to 40% more polluting that domestic natural gas,

• LNG will shift us from energy independence (98% of natural gas currently used in the US is domestic) to energy dependence on foreign sources such as Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, and Libya,

• LNG is not needed - domestic sources are vast and can meet future energy demand,

• LNG Facilities will destroy essential fishing grounds

More about LNG and the Gas Pipeline Proposed to run through NJ
Download Clean Ocean Action Special Report - "LNG: An Un-American Energy Source, Liquefied Natural Gas: An Expensive, Dirty, Foreign Fossil Fuel that Threatens Our Natural Gas Energy Independence"
Find out more about Clean Ocean Action
Keep our ocean wild & industry free!
Hope you can come out for these important hearings...

Friday, January 14, 2011


Voices of Hope Productions is pleased to be screening the Reentry Film Series on Monday, January 17th as part of a Martin Luther King - Day of Service at Bridges Outreach, in Summit New Jersey.

Youth and adults will come together to participate in various volunteer activities, including wrapping books and gifts, making quilts for sheltered children, sorting donations and toiletries, making brown bag lunches and creating a letter writing campaign.

Bridges began in 1988 with just one suburban couple. Today, Bridges’ Outreach includes over 1,500 kind and caring volunteers delivering over 100,000 bagged brown lunches, 40,000 breakfast bags, literally tons of clothing and toiletries and other necessities each year.

Their special program is called the Bridges' Run, where they visit with street friends. At each Run stop, volunteers distribute clothing and toiletry items, serve soup and a beverage, and ensure that every street friend who visits the truck receives what they need. Most important, volunteers mingle with Bridges' street friends and share conversation. The bond established during the Run has enduring value for both volunteers and street friends.

Bridges' staff is responsible for scheduling and managing more than 160 Runs each year, reaching out to 500 to 700 homeless friends every week, in Newark, Irvington and New York City.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Day of Service
at Bridges Outreach
Monday, January 17, 2011
10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
120 Morris Avenue
Summit, New Jersey

Film screening to begin at 11:00 am with discussion to follow.

Directions or for more information

The Reentry Films Series includes three short films: A Failed System, Nowhere to Go and Healing Justice: Transformed Lives. The American Friends Service Committee and Voices of Hope Productions joined forces to support, through the medium of film, community groups and policy organizations devoted to men and women returning home after incarceration. American Friends Service Committtee and Voices of Hope Productions encourages you and your organization to use each of these films with the FREE accompanying screening guide and advocacy toolkit to further your organization’s goal of developing thriving communities and productive lives of dignity.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Best Wishes for Peace, Health and Happiness

2010 started with a bang and opened many doors to new relationships.I worked on multiple media projects throughout the year and have had the good fortune to collaborate with passionate allies along the way.  Let's continue to join together to advocate for a better society with greater equity for all people. Thank you for taking part in my journey to tell visual stories of hope and inspiration.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Boutique Owner Grows Small Business by Using Social Media and Cause Marketing

Carla Gizzi knows her business. She's had a vintage inspired home and jewelry boutique in Red Bank, New Jersey for fifteen years. She says that business has slowed in the past few years, but with a loyal following it hasn't disrupted her passion for buying merchandise and finding new ways to promote her shops. By using a combination of social media and cause marketing strategies Carla is bringing in new customers and growing her business. 

Real Stories. Real People. Webisode by Lori H. Ersolmaz

Friday, November 05, 2010


Find out where the Reentry Film Series was screened or on TV.


Ojore Lutalo | Art of Struggle Exhibit and Lecture

Voices of Hope Productions sponsored an art exhibit and lecture with activist Bonnie Kerness and ex-political prisoner Ojore Lutalo. Both kept the audience in "shock and awe" with stories of Ojore's experiences while held in solitary confinement for over 22 years in New Jersey State Prison. Bonnie explained that when Ojore first contacted her she had no concept of the conditions of, or how many people were tortured in control (isolation) units. Bonnie went on to say that while people in the US and the rest of "the world were shocked by what happened in Abu Ghraib and Guantanomo Bay, 2.5 million prisoners, families, lawyers, and activists understood this was business as usual." 


Look for scenes of Ojore's Art Exhibit and Lecture in an upcoming segment on NJN's Due Process starting November 21, 2010.

Ojore said that he experienced some of the same tactics and torture that terrorists or prisoners of war experience due to his personal and ideological belief system. He was placed in prison to break his mind and spirit, and to neutralize his radical and anarchist ideas. For instance he believes that "people have the capacity to govern themselves through the process of consensus." A good-looking and mild mannered man, when asked if he felt any sense of freedom, Ojore simply remarked, "I've never experienced freedom in America, and I don't think anyone who is black has either." 

Ojore will be featured in an upcoming episode of New Jersey Network's Due Process that will air on November 21 at 9:30 AM and 6:30 PM, and again on November 23 at 11:30 PM. During that week, the episode will also stream on
their website at Click here for channel listings for the various cable and satellite providers. 

An incredible list of companies that hire people who were formerly incarcerated.

A word about Healing Justice: Transformed Lives
"Wow how awesome!!!!! There is hope. My brother-in-law was incarcerated for over 21 for a crime that he didn't commit. He has been home with us for nearly 4 years. He has friends that are now coming home and they have no family and no where to go. Some friends got together to purchase a building to house them in while the get on their feet. I believe that people can change if the are willing to do the hard work. Healing Justice: Transformed Lives really drove this home for me. Great job! I will pass this one."

Friday, October 15, 2010

What Do You Know About Clean Water?

Did you know that nearly 1 billion people lack access to clean water, which causes a litany of struggles, diseases and even death?

Here are some of the FACTS:

African women walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kilograms to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink.

Every week, nearly 38,000 children under the age of 5 die from unsafe drinking water and unhygienic living conditions.

In July, to address the water crisis, the United Nations declared access to clean water and sanitation a human right over. But we are far from implementing solutions to secure basic access to safe drinking water.

The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled.

What are the SOLUTIONS?

Building Wells: Organizations like and charity: water are leading the charge in bringing fresh water to communities in the developing world.

Conservation Starts at Home: The average person uses 465 liters of water per day. Find out how much you use and challenge your readers to do that same.

Keeping Rivers Clean: We can all take small steps to help keep pollution out of our rivers and streams, like correctly disposing of household wastes.

Drop the Bottle: Communities around the world are taking steps to reduce water bottle waste by eliminating bottled water.
Consider contributing directly to clean water projects abroad. Our partners charity: water and are both working to bring clean water to communities around the world. A donation of as little as $25 to can give one person clean water for life.

Let's work together to make sure every human being on the planet has access to clean water.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

TODAY | The Art of Struggle

TODAY | Saturday,
October 9th, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Art Exhibit and Lecture
The Art of Struggle
Sponsored by Voices of Hope Productions

United States Political Prisoner, Ojore Luttalo’s Art reflects the subterfuge of solitary confinement in the Management Control Unit for 22 years. Bonnie Kerness is a humanitarian on the front line as coordinator of the Prison Watch Project, on behalf of political prisoners for over 30 years. Luttalo’s art is a collection of ideas enhanced by gripping images that brings light to an unforgiving prison system that uses isolation and torture to maim and destroy political prisoners.

Ojore was interned in this unit in an effort to break his mind and neutralize his radical political beliefs stemming from the Black Liberation Movements of the 1970’s. Ojore is a political anarchist believing that people have the capacity to govern themselves through the process of consensus. Ojore, and other political radicals in US prisons have evidence of ongoing government surveillance.

His release from this documented torture was ordered in 2009 via a court order. Ojore’s freedom was interrupted last January 26 when he was “disappeared” from an Amtrak train, arrested and charged with “endangering public transportation”. All of those charges were dropped. His story is the story of how the US uses psychological and physical torture for political reasons.

Ojore’s story is embedded in a report submitted to the United Nations Universal Periodic R
eview Working Committee which is due to review US political repression and the existence of US political prisoners this November.

Bonnie Kerness, Human Rights Activist
Bonnie Kerness has been an anti-racist activist since she was 14, working at the University Settlement House as a volunteer on issues of housing, neighborhood and gangs. In 1961, at the age of 19, she moved to Tennessee to participate in the Civil Rights Movement. In Memphis she was trained as a community organizer by the NAACP. She continued her work and training at Highlander Training School in Knoxville, where organizers from throughout the Civil Rights movement met for training and brainstorming. Bonnie moved back North in 1970 and became active with welfare rights, tenants rights and anti-war issues.

Bonnie gained her Masters in Social Work and has served as a human rights advocate on behalf of prisoners since 1975, working as coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee’s re-entry services project for over 15 years. She currently serves as coordinator of AFSC’s Prison Watch Project, which has had the use of isolation and devices of torture in US prisons as a primary focus. She has served as Associate Director and Acting Director of the AFSC Criminal Justice Program in Newark and the National Coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Control Unit Prisons.

She has helped publish, “Our Children’s House”; “Torture in US
Prisons – Evidence of US Human Rights Violations;" and “The Prison Inside the Prison: Control Units, Supermax Prisons and Devices of Torture”, the "Survivor’s Manual" and ”Inalienable Rights”. Bonnie speaks widely on behalf of men, women and children in prison about US human rights violations of the UN Convention Against Torture. She has been quoted in articles, books and other publications on prison related subjects.

Come meet the artist, Ojore Luttalo and hear from human rights activist extraordinaire, Bonnie Kerness about how torture and isolation continues to be used in New Jersey and throughout the United States.

The Art Exhibit and Lecture will be held from 3pm - 5pm
at Frank Talk Art, Bistro and Books, 163 Shrewsbury Avenue,
Red Bank, NJ.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Voices of Hope UPDATE: Busy, Busy, Busy!

The past month has been quite busy with a host of Reentry Film Series broadcasts and distribution:

September 28, 2010 | Frank Talk with Host Gilda Rogers
Second run on Comcast and Verizon Cable- Monmouth County

September 14, 2010 | WGLS-FM Radio 89.7
Interview on Dr. Candace Kelley's League of the Extraordinary
Listen to the Podcast

September 10, 2010 | Faces and Voices of Recovery
Reentry Film Series mentioned as a resource in their bimonthly e-Newsletter. Several people contacted me nationally to use the films to engage people in their states.

September 7, 2010 | Frank Talk with Host Gilda Rogers - 26 minutes
First run on Comcast and Verizon Cable- Monmouth County

August 26, 2010 | Greater Camden County Renaissance Group

There are several public access stations across the state who plan to run the series, and I will keep you updated about where they will run. Princeton Community TV has committed to showing all three films and can be viewed on cable channel 30 throughout Princeton Township and Princeton Borough on the Comcast cable system and on channel 45 of Verizon’s FiOS system.


October 2, 2010 | NCADD-NJ screened Healing Justice: Transformed Lives for the new class of Advocacy Leaders.

The Reentry Series Screening Guide and Advocacy Toolkit are now ready! To host a film screening in your community Simply go online now and apply for your free DVD, screening guide and advocacy toolkit.

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

Please provide a link to the films on your website, facebook, twitter, or linked-in pages. I'll be happy to help facilitate the link exchange so that more people can be educated about the issues of reentry.

Art Exhibit and Lecture
The Art of Struggle
Sponsored by Voices of Hope Productions
Saturday, October 9th
3:00 - 5:00

United States Political Prisoner, Ojore Luttalo’s art reflects the subterfuge of solitary confinement in the Management Control Unit for 22 years. Bonnie Kerness is a humanitarian on the front line as coordinator of the Prison Watch Project, when it comes to working on behalf of political prisoners.

Luttalo’s art is a collection of ideas enhanced by gripping images that brings light to an unforgiving prison system that aims to maim and destroy political prisoners.

Luttalo’s work is a captivating collage exhibit that reminds us that the freedom of expression, otherwise known as art, is limitless. Come meet the artist, Ojore and hear from activist extraordinaire, Bonnie Kerness about how torture is used in New Jersey and throughout the United States. Art exhibit and lecture will be held at Frank Talk Art, Bistro and Books, 163 Shrewsbury Avenue, Red Bank, NJ.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Say YES To Clean Energy

This short video was developed to emphasize the need for clean and renewable energy and was produced by Voices of Hope Productions for Clean Ocean Action. New Jersey residents, nonprofit organizations including the Alaska Wilderness League, Edison Wetlands Association, Environment New Jersey, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation and elected officials joined together to create the largest global gathering against offshore drilling as part of an international "Hands Across the Sand" day of action. However, as Asbury Park Mayor Ed Johnson stated "This event has to be more than a one day event, it has to be about each and every one of us going home to our lives and making a proactive change in our energy use and how we affect the environment. We are all at fault for the great destruction of the Gulf and we must be part of the solution."

Monday, September 06, 2010

VOICES OF HOPE Reentry Film Series Interview to Run on Public Access TV

On Tuesday, September 7th a 26 minute segment about the recently launched Reentry Films Series will run at 9:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., and 9:30 p.m. on Channel 21 on Comcast Cable and Channel 46 on Verizon FIOS in Monmouth County.

I was interviewed last month by Gilda Rogers of Frank Talk and had an opportunity to discuss the challenges and possibilities facing formerly incarcerated people. The segment includes excerpts from the film series, and we also spoke in detail about the historic reentry legislation that passed early this year, as well as public policy issues that still need to be addressed.

American Friends Service Committee and Voices of Hope Productions launched the Re-Entry Film Series last month in Newark at the Paul Robeson Center where over 90 people came together to see the films and discussed how to spark discussion in communities throughout New Jersey.
The Reentry Film Series is also available online and a comprehensive Film Series Guide and Advocacy Toolkit is near completion. The Toolkit will also include reentry links and resources which are already available online.

Continue to check back for updated information on the Voices of Hope and American Friends Service Committee website.

To host a film screening in your community contact Voices of Hope Productions ( for a free DVD, screening guide and advocacy toolkit.


The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Our work is based on the principles of the Religious Society of Friends, the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

Voices of Hope Productions, LLC is a woman-owned multi-media production company dedicated to creative and community-based communications and documentary filmmaking as a means to educate, engage, empower and entertain while fostering leadership, citizenship and inspiration in adults and youth to make a difference in our society.

Supporting Organizations

Thursday, August 12, 2010


The July 26 reentry film screening brought over 90 people to the Paul Robeson Center at Rutgers Newark to see two new reentry films, Nowhere to Go and Healing Justice: Transformed Lives. It was great to see so many people come out to support the films. After the screening the audience discussed using the films as part of a communications strategy to engage others in understanding the issues of reentry, and through dialogue helping to solve the problems in communities throughout New Jersey.

Elizabeth Enloe, American Friends Service Committee Regional Director and I spoke with the group about the associated screening guide and advocacy toolkit and asked for feedback on ways that people could use the films in their communities.

Rafiq Saleem, who came to the screening after having been released from prison just that day said, "I appreciate programs such as this and really encourage the outside world to get more involved. I believe these films should be given to every house in the 'hood' so that the young gang members, the pregnant women—no fathers, no mother figures—they should see these films because this is a form of encouragement."

After viewing the films a survey was conducted and two thirds of the audience participated. 92% responded that the films "clearly explained the issues", and more than three quarters said the film educated them on the issues and provided them with ways to get involved.

Participants were encouraged to use the films in multiple ways. The screening guide and advocacy toolkit provide a road map for holding screenings and engaging varied audiences in grassroots solutions to reentry problems throughout the state.

The films can be used in suburban and rural areas to educate the public and help them understand how they are impacted by the costs and public safety issues associated with the revolving door of incarceration. Arthur Townes, Alumni Director from Community Education Centers (CEC) stood up after the screening and said, "I think these films create a message of hope. They can be used to inspire others and to expose a light on the issues around reentry in communities that don't necessarily see this as a problem."

Youth and adults in the prison system are a good audience for Healing Justice: Transformed Lives. Michael Jackson, Founder of Prison Nation Radio ( who was interviewed for the film stated, "Personally the thing that made me believe I could do it was when I saw someone else who had done it. Films like this about people who have been successful need to go to the people inside [prison] because once people see others saying that it can be done--that's when people can do it on their own—so that they can start their healing."

Additionally, one third of the people who participated in the survey said they were interested in hosting a screening in their community and a third said they would contact their elected officials.

A comprehensive screening guide and advocacy toolkit are in development and when complete the package will include:

• Potential Audiences/Partners
• Invitation Poster/Flyer
• Sign-in Sheets
• Event Press Release Template and Video Clip Photos
• HANDOUT: Become Involved Action Sheet
• HANDOUT: Fact Sheet/Resources
• Letter to Editor Template
• Legislative Action Sheet
• Petition
• Youtube Video
• Audience Surveys

Please share the videos widely, embed them in your websites and blogs, and create a social media buzz. Updated information will be available on the Voices of Hope website and on AFSC's website as well. To host a screening in your community email for a free DVD, screening guide and advocacy toolkit.

Thank you for your attention to this very important issue!

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Our work is based on the principles of the Religious Society of Friends, the belief in the worth of every person, and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

Supporting Organizations

No Where to Go and Healing Justice: Transformed Lives were made with generous funding from the New Jersey Department of State/Office of Faith Based Initiatives.