Monday, August 27, 2007
Allen Vartazarian
"Fame! I want to live forever!" The song "Fame" from the musical of the same name tapped into two things a lot of people want. And 24-year-old Allen Vartazarian recognized that sometimes the quest of the former is stronger than the latter.

Vartazarian founded (formerly, a social networking portal that connects aspiring talent with fans and industry professionals to help them acquire the fame they so desire in areas such as music, acting and comedy. It's a "talent portal" that lets wannabes upload a free profile and the stuff that's going to make them a star. Then the Digg-like ranking system lets Taltopia users determine if it's "fame"-worthy or just a "shame."

Recognizing that not everyone can afford plane tickets to Hollywood or make it in front of Simon Cowell, Vartazarian and his partner want to bring those resources to them. "The goal is to give everyone the same shot at fame, no matter where they live or how much money they have," he says. Vartazarian just provides the source, actually getting "famed" by the discerning Taltopia community could be just as tough as trying to live forever.

Update: Watch the Live Video interview
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Summer Rayne Oakes
Click. She wears a windmill pin but little else. Click. She poses in a forest in a bright fair-trade gown. Click. She smiles covered in mud next to the caption, "we should worship the ground we walk on."

With every click of a camera's shutter, Summer Rayne Oakes sends a message about environmental issues. Using fashion as her catalyst, this 23-year-old "Eco-Model" is all about getting a larger audience to care about sustainability, climate change and going green. Oakes lends her face to mission-based causes, with the idea that modeling can be an excellent way to communicate important issues if approached with thought and values.

Oakes graduated from Cornell with degrees in Natural Resources and Entomology. She's now translating her brains and beauty into a book series, "Hip Girl's Guide to Green Living," a fashion newsletter, S4, and her own think tank called SRO. With every cause-driven venture, she's getting her message to, well, click with other young people.

Update: Watch the Live Video interview
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Elizabeth Torres
"We won't stumble. We've come to save the world." It sounds a little different, but it means the same thing in Spanish: "Hemos venido a salvar el mundo."

That's a line from Elizabeth Torres' poem "Heroes," in her new bilingual book, "Because the Flame is Alive." The Colombian-born poet started writing at age 5. Her inspiration came from her native country where she saw children trading pens for guns.

Now, this 19-year-old poet and motivational speaker travels across the United States and Latin America with the message in her poem: Be a leader today, not tomorrow. And whether it's in English or in Spanish, Torres' idea that young people can succeed translates no matter what language they speak.

Check out some of Torres' poems here.

Update: Watch the Live Video interview
Monday, August 6, 2007
Rebecca Kousky
It's something we all crave -- security, a nest of our own. By day, Rebecca Kousky helps sustain a nest for a family in St. Louis, Missouri, for whom she works as a nanny. On her own time, Kousky is the founder of a non-profit organization called Nest that helps women all around the world create their own security.

Nest offers micro-finance loans to women from India to Israel. Female designers and artists worldwide come to Nest for small loans to help them with their businesses typically involving the fabrication and sale of goods like jewelry, pottery or clothes. In return for the loan, the artists have the option of paying back the loan in cash or with their product which is then featured on Nest's online shopping site,

Her catch phrase is "changing the world one purchase at a time." Kousky rang up sales of $10,000 in her first month of business. That money was used to finance 45 more women with loans as small as $50. The business is both charitable and self-sustaining. "The beauty is that once the nest is built we get the money back to build a future for someone else," said Kousky.

Update: Watch the Live Video interview

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