Monday, March 3, 2008

To: All UBBT Teams, Friends, Masters, Students, and Total Strangers:

Subject: Donations for Alabama Home Build

To donate to our host, Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization (HERO) in support of our April building project, please use one of the following method

To to donate by check, please mail the check to:

Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Organization (HERO)

PO Box 318

Greensboro, AL 36744

To donate by credit card on-line, please follow this link:

Then click the “Donate” button and follow on-line instructions.

In either case, please note UBBT 2008 in the comment field. If you are donating on behalf of a particular UBBT member or school, please note that too.


Hal Gustin (team 5 / the 100)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Alabama Project April 2008

For the fourth year in a row, the members of THE ULTIMATE BLACK BELT TEST (UBBT) and THE 100, along with a lot of students and friends, will be raising money for -and then BUILDING a house for a family in need in Greensboro, Alabama.

This project is organized by Tom Callos, the Team Coach for the UBBT and The 100, and housing activist Pam Dorr (click on her name to see a film about Pam [that's the UBBT building structures in the background] made by UBBT member and Academy Award winning filmmaker Nancy Walzog).

Members of The UBBT 5, along with UBBT Alumni (and, always, some students & friends) actually travel to Greensboro to build the house in a just 4 days.

We go to this region for several reasons:
  1. This is one of the poorest regions in America (known as THE BLACK BELT).
  2. We go to meet one another and exchange ideas -under the most extraordinary of circumstances.
  3. We go to honor the famous architect/teacher, Samuel Mockbee and his work with The Rural Studio; AND, we go to honor the work of the Mockbee inspired activists Pam Dorr and John Bielneberg of Project M (Maine, Messages, and Mockbee). John is a famous teacher too!
  4. We go to practice PROJECT BASED LEADERSHIP TRAINING (PBLT), a concept where martial arts teachers help young students name, organize, and initiate community-based projects as a way to take their martial arts "out of the dojo and into the world" ---and to learn, experientially, leadership. This is the national event that serves as the model for 100's of other events in communities around the world.
  5. We go to honor two great proponents of non-violent conflict resolution and civil rights, Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, who both lived and/or worked in this area.
  6. We go to change a families life -their life chances, and give them a well-built home filled with love and respect.
We are seeking a little donation money from a LOT of people! A lot of MARTIAL ARTS PEOPLE, their students, friends, and family members. We have more than 100 schools participating --which means for just a few dollars a week for the next two months, you can help some martial arts master REALLY PRACTICE mastery ----and you can participate in an award winning, revolutionary, industry-changing event with some of the most important and pro-active teachers/practitioners in the world. Click this link to donate:

Would you help us, please, to raise some building supply money for this worthwhile project?

For more information, contact Tom Callos at 530-903-0286 and/or by e-mail at

Note: The info you see on this blog includes new about LAST year's historic build.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

PROJECT H in Alabama --Progress

Update on PROJECT H from Pam Dorr:

Construction is continuing here at the Ella Martin House. March has been a super busy month with four college groups coming to continue the renovations begun by the members of the Ultimate Black Belt Team.First we had a group of 25 students from the Universities of New Hampshire and Philadelphia here for a week volunteering for Habitat. An energetic team of 20 came the following week from S.E. Missouri State. At the end of March we have a final group of 14 visiting Greensboro on their alternative spring break from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Habitat is opening the Ella Martin Bunk House in June & it’s already reserved for the entire month! Following June the house is available for rent by the week. Contact Bonita at HERO for reservations.

HERO Housing Resource Center 1120 Main St., Greensboro, AL. 36744 334-624-0842 Phone

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

First off, a giant THANK YOU to all of the team that helped make Alabama’s PROJECT H a success; to those who supported the project financially ($40k to date) –and to those who came and provided labor, help, medical (Oh man), and emotional support.

Like many of my ideas, this one was just a bit beyond what I actually thought we could do…I mean, renovating a historic building…getting 70 people together to do it…sleeping in a gym together…eating together…taking cold showers together…and at the same time, getting far beyond the casual conversation, the superficial, the trite or trivial ---and reaching deep inside each participant so that he or she would somehow be moved by the experience.
For me the week started on Monday, as I came in with a few other team members to do the most dangerous and dirty work, which was the demolition of a room and ceilings/walls. Very dirty work, for sure. Joe Sherwood, Jason and Claire from the UK, and the Kastner Clan did most of the ugly stuff before the team arrived on Wed.

From Wed to Saturday night, everyone who arrived worked like dogs, nearly non-stop, always hard, through thick and thin to make this project happen. We went to watch a movie film festival and the Rural Studio, we worked on other projects, we met in a circle on numerous occasions to “talk story”, and we gathered in many other ways to make friends, to listen to stories, to laugh, and to share ideas.

People brought students, friends, and family members. Kids ran around, strangers became acquaintances (if not friends), and we performed a demo, sent 5 people to the hospital, nursed our wounds (part of the house collapsed on us), and got back on the horse to make it happen.

In the end, the trip wasn’t about building a house –it was about overcoming obstacles, about thinking differently, about coming together, and about team.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Directions from Airport to Hero Office

Directions fromBirmingham airport to HERO andGreensboro, Alabama:

Take highway 20/59 South from the airport towards Tuscaloosa.

Stay on 20/59 for 55 miles.

Take exit #71A. This will be Al Hwy 69 South towards Moundville.

Stay on Hwy 69 South 34 miles.

Make a left on Main Street in Greensboro. There is no at this intersection for Main Street. There is a Methodist Church on your right. Make a left onto Main. Our office is on the left about 2 blocks down...

My cell phone: (tom) 530-903-0286
Hero's Office (PamDorr and team): 334-507-3700

Friday, March 2, 2007

InTribute to ML King and Our Trip (Julian Bond)

This letter from1993 was a response to a letter I'd written to the civil rights activist Julian Bond.

In tribute to our upcoming trip to Martin Luther King country, I'm publishing this here for the first time...
The photo features a young Julian Bond listening to King speak.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Here Are some Pictures from the ALABAMA PROJECT tear-down and prep for our team's upcoming visit.