Connecting Women: Why This is Our First Priority

I’ve written about this before, but this is a topic so near to me that I think uncovering and unpacking the layers is relevant, important, and necessary. When I go back to what it is I do, connecting women and holding space for women is the common theme. So, why is that so important?

Connecting to Sustainability

Years ago, I identified that my goal is to educate people on the importance of a sustainable society. This was a beautiful moment because it allowed me openness to opportunities that had just been created and were now available to me. I was able to declare Sustainable Urban Development as my minor at Portland State. I was able to travel to Italy on a Sustainability Study Abroad. I was able to co-author a book on Sustainability. Because my bucket job explorations in sustainability didn’t lead to a paid gig, I kept unpacking what sustainability meant for me.

The Triple Bottom Line is the common definition I use. It’s easy to understand, wrap our heads around, and generally gets the point across. I’ve called it the Three Es, until this new definition. It means that you balance three things equally instead of just one.

In business, the norm is to balance the books. You know if a company is making a profit, or not. You balance the profit books, the economic books. In the Triple Bottom Line definition, you add two books: people (equity) and planet/place (environment). With how we’ve measured environmental success, this piece is easy to measure. We know if we are polluting the environment more than cleaning it up. We know if we are cutting down more trees than planting. We know if our food is contaminated, or not. We know if our water is contaminated, or not.

Connecting people

But people, that’s where things get messy. Because people are messy. We bring all of our junk, or baggage, to the table – no matter what the table is – work, family, volunteering. If we had a bad day at work, it’s often hard to hide it from our families. If family life is stressful, it affects our concentration at work. We are a society that likes easy things, so we don’t deal with the people aspect because it is hard.

And, the hard thing is exactly what we need to deal with. If we want our society to be a better place tomorrow than it is today, we have to tackle the hard thing. I want society to be a better place. I want my son to grow up with kindness, compassion, and opportunity within a setting of health, wellness, wealth, and awesome choices. I want the next generation to have even better opportunities. If we collectively want that, and I think we do, then we have to work together to figure out people.

Connecting with Women

I am focusing on women for many reasons. I am a women. I was raised by a women, who served our family as a single mother using social services, until she remarried. I have sisters. One sister is the mother of a special needs child. One sister was killed by her boyfriend. That is, one sister was a victim of domestic violence.

I watch all the women in my circle: gay, straight, single, parents, black, hispanic, white – and they all have spaces where they need support. Many women I see are not the sole breadwinners of their families, and that directly affects choices they make. Some women face exclusions that I, as a white women, cannot relate to, and it’s unfair and unnecessary.

So, I see a need for us, women, to come together like we never have before. I see a need for us to cross race, political, and economic lines and see the potential in each of us. I see space for us to thrive together.

When women support each other in joy, we do amazing things. We love. We share. We are kind. We show up with compassion. We gift, and we support. I want to create a society that honors the feminine to bring these necessary things back into our world, massively. Join me. Let’s connect.

Hi! It’s me. It’s been a while. Let’s connect.

I love writing, but finding my blogging voice has been quiet, silent, for a long time. I had an amazing experience a week or so ago, so I thought I’d write about it.

I have friends all over the political spectrum, but your vibe attracts your tribe, and my tribe is left-leaning women who resonate with creating a women-empowered economy, and even smashing the patriarchy. We know that it’s our time, and we want to do this journey together. A journey where we create a more love-centered, compassionate world. A world where we seek win-wins, instead of wars.

This election has a lot of us riled up. RILED UP. I have confessed, multiple times now, that during Obama’s administration, I fell asleep politically. Instead, I chose to focus on my family, things near to me that I could control. I missed out on great speeches, some political decisions I think are disastrous and don’t represent my values, and some political decisions I would have appreciated celebrating.

An old man was elected to the presidential office. Again, someone who espouses values that I do not agree with, at least they come across as the opposite of compassionate, win-win decisions. The campaign, from that vantage point, seemed to be a campaign of anger, hate, and riling people up for violence. Again, values that I do not espouse, nor do I want represented in the office we hold most dear in this land.

So, what’s a girl to do? We march. And, march we did. The early estimates, for Portland, guessed that 20,000 to 30,000 women would show up. The final estimates guessed that over 100,000 people showed up to say, “NO,” to the current administration and the policies that have been promised.

When Bush was president, another president whose values I did not hold in similarity, we marched. But, then I stopped. Much like falling asleep to the Obama administration, I fell asleep to the things I didn’t feel like I could change.

Hopefully with age comes wisdom. And, this time, the people who have chosen to help organize these marches have also organized actions. 10 actions in 100 days. I have cultivated a left-leaning tribe, and the people in my tribe are ACTING. Some are signing and sharing petitions, some are making calls, some are attending town halls, some are protesting injustices, some are doing all these things. A friend and I hosted a Huddle (action number two), and that felt great.

Though we invited a handful of people close to us, the majority who showed up were strangers to us. Other concerned women who want a world that is more compassionate, loving, and inclusive of all of our differences. We talked, and I had the opportunity to serve, gifting the group my facilitation skills.

Joy! Bringing women together, who showed up, ready to engage! Joy! Listening to all their varied stories while we thought of what we want our world to be. Joy! Seeing the actions that sprang up. For example, a committee formed around one woman who is interested in exploring a political office! Joy! A group was created so that we can stay in touch and engaged.

If you want to know more about the Huddle or other events that we have planned, send me a message. I would love to connect with you. Stay with me, as I continue to fine tune and realize my own story. As we connect together, we will share our stories together and create a world we want.

Question Authority

Two of these friends, being silly, in front of our decorated picture window. It reads something like "Make Love... Make Peace..."
Two of these friends, being silly, in front of our decorated picture window. It reads something like “Make Love… Make Peace…”

The last time I eagerly uttered those words, it was the spring of 2003. I was living in Lansing, Michigan. I was in my early twenties living with other white people who were also in their early twenties.

A typical Friday night for us was sharing a meal, inexpensive wine, and stories. We were all left of the center. And, we all agreed that George W. Bush was not our president.

On the day, in March 2003, when Dubya declared war against Iraq, it was one of these wine nights. We sat around our friend’s small living room around their even smaller television. Some on the floor; some on the couch. I felt like the TV was so close it could touch our noses. The live declaration was announced, and suddenly our country was launched into war, despite lack of congressional approval.

The last declared war I had heard in my lifetime, was by Dubya’s father. I was in 7th grade. I remember calling my early teenage boyfriend, aghast, that our country would send young men to their death. I have relatives that have served, many proudly. Many who have been affected by some sort of “shell shock” or now “post-traumatic stress disorder”. Why would we willingly send loved ones to “fight for our freedoms” when they came back broken and hardly free of acquired demons? The irony was not lost on me, and the only conclusion I drew then, and now, was that there has to be another way.

I was living with a group that also felt there had to be another way, so we did the next best thing we could think of. We participated in what was called the largest ignored protest. We made signs. We marched. We chanted. We felt validated in our questions by surrounding ourselves with other like minded left of the center, socialists. I joined a group, The Greater Lansing Area Network Against the War in Iraq (GLANAWI for short). How can this be happening in my lifetime? Didn’t we learn the lessons of WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam? Apparently not.

And there was a chasm – support our president because it’s the right thing to do… Or?

Have you ever had a boss you thought was out to lunch? Maybe this boss was even chosen by a bunch of smart people. Yet, you watch them railroad meeting after meeting and shoot down idea after idea. You watch them fail to listen, repeatedly, and you see this is why they are not succeeding. You see them handle communication awkwardly, or not at all. You see how they make staff divisive, instead of loyal. And, then, you watch them lie.

I’ve had a few bosses like this. And, when my friends and I watched Dubya, that’s what it felt like. Clearly a clever man for having reached the presidency, but how could he be making so many poor choices? How could he be sending people he’s never met to their sudden death under the guise of freedom?

And, there, I was validated again – our role was to question. Our role is to never stop asking questions. If we don’t understand something, our job, with all respect, is to ask questions and never stop asking questions until we get satisfactory answers. And, even then, we can’t stop. Our job is to push them to be their best. Even when their egos are so inflated they cannot see that we are truly helping them because we do believe in a greater America. We believe that we can be our best selves and this is not it.

When I was in my early twenties, we declared our message through childish posters drawn and hung around our craftsman, duplex, bungalow. Now, I write in this forum, and I actively question and challenge when face to face. I’ve learned some things about interrupting oppressions, and I use those strategies with a guarded heart.

Join me in questioning. We deserve to live in an America that truly does embrace all, all of us with our warts, our varied colors, and our varied ways of doing this thing called life. No one person is more important than another, and we all have an important role to play. You matter. I matter. We matter, and our job is to remind them that we matter. And we will not shut up until they listen.

Peace in Grief

I wanted Hillary Clinton to be the first woman president. I admired her grace and stamina since she was the First Lady of the United States. I never really understood why she was vilified so much in the press. I never understood the severity of the scandals like Whitewater. When it came to her husband’s more solicitous affairs, I chalked that up to what most politicians do, he’s just being vilified for it.

I find it interesting, now that Hillary served as FLOTUS, to being elected two terms as a senator in New York, and then serving another five as Secretary of State, that Politifact and other sources mark her as one of the most honest politicians. A few theories explain that this idea of her being a “liar” is basically the same lie being repeated so often that it felt like truth. [1][2][3][4]

So, we have a woman, unfairly caught up in scandals, made loud by the media, and trumped up as truth because the lie is repeated over and over. It’s hard not to see that as misogyny. And, when men tell you that it’s your imagination, it’s hard not to see that as more misogyny and “mansplaining.”

I feel pain for this. I am so sad that the greatest glass ceiling I know of is still unbroken. I am confused that 53% of white women voted for the candidate who was known for misogynistic comments throughout his celebrated career. I am heartbroken that this vilification continues. I am devastated that we can’t seem to come together to find a solution that works for all of us.

So, this is when I turn to my essential oils. Right now, I want forgiveness and peace. I firmly believe that President-Elect Trump deserves a fair shot. I believe in our constitutional democracy, and that we need to trust in the process, no matter how flawed and unfair it seems. I believe that we owe him respect as our future president. I believe we owe ourselves acknowledgement that he is smart and clever for having won this tough seat. I also believe that we must stand taller, prouder, and louder in the face of oppressions and interrupt them. We can do it with peace. But, we must do it.

We must interrupt women hating comments with a loud, “Ouch! Would you say that to your mother?”

We must stand up for our neighbors when they are being bullied.

We can find courage in our secret groups, but our courage needs to be outed and loud.

We need to talk about our beliefs.

We need to ask questions to others about THEIR beliefs. If we really want to affect change, we must first seek to understand, and then be understood. I have oils for that too. Start with Lavender, the Oil of Communication. You might be surprised at its calming effects while you find words you need to say.

We need to understand that we have far more in common than things that divide us. And, we need to find conversations around those commonalities. Then, we can pick apart proposed solutions until we find one that fits.

I envision a future where clean air and clean water are no longer fought for because we all agree they are inalienable rights to every single human on this planet.

I envision a future where we have robust gardens of nourishment in every food shed, so local places can support themselves.

I envision a future where we stop digging in our sacred ground and we turn to energies that move and shine all around us.

I envision a future where we bring up leaders who love learning and who are excited about affecting positive change for their own futures.

I envision a future where our basic needs are met so well that we can all work on our dreams and goals with fewer hurdles, barriers, and upper limits getting in the way. (I have an oil for that too… start with Wild Orange, the Oil of Abundance.)

I envision that we all honor the divine in you and the divine in me. That we all recognize life is precious and must be taken seriously, with light hearted fun to pepper things along the way. We all deserve to be here. We are all Children of God. We all have purpose, and we can do this together. We can do this with love.

t-10-vi-52_4-fear-love

What Makes America Great

The husband and I were discussing this after running errands prior to picking the kiddo up from school. In 2004, I came to some conclusions. It doesn’t matter what end of the political spectrum, or grid, you are on. What matters is that most people simply care about those they love, however they define it. And, most people, want those they love and care about to succeed. In 2004, after deals were struck for oil barons, I theorized GW cared about his oil friends.

I care about my farmer friends and family. I care about my union working, manufacturing friends and family. I care about those who serve in a variety of ways. So, it was hard for me to relate to someone making deals that didn’t directly affect those I care about. Or rather, it was hard for me to relate to someone making deals where the side affects adversely affected people and things I cared about – environment, local wages, etc.

I firmly believe our common values unite us. We don’t, however, spend enough time talking about those values. Sometimes, we come to solutions before seeking to understand the other side, and those solutions are at odds. I often think that’s what we’re fighting about.

I get that there have been many stories showcasing horrific examples of misogyny, racism, homophobia. I have hope those are rare examples. Horrific. Awful to those who had to experience first hand. Yet, I hope those are rare instances. The last surge of hate before real, loving change happens.

In light of this thinking, watch Ellen’s take on “What Makes America Great.”

The Only Constant Is Change

I love exploring sites like 27o to Win or Nate Silver’s 538. Places dedicated towards numbers, polls, and results. And, I also like to remember that things rarely stay the same.

Living on the “Left Coast”, California, Oregon, and Washington are foregone conclusions for the election. Growing up, the states around my home state of Michigan were thought of blue too. But, what do the results say? Times change. Take a look at 1904 to present.

1904 to present, presidential elections

make action GIFs like this at MakeaGif

I’m excited to see how this year pans out. I’ll be donning a sort of #pantsuit on Tuesday expressing my hopes and desires.

I’m with her

As posted on Facebook…

WARNING: This is a political post. I know not all of my friends are the bleeding heart liberal as I identify. I know there are Trump supporters in my list. I know there are Johnson supporters. I know there are people who support Jill Stein and not Hillary.

I am called to cheer this election though. I am so thrilled to be casting my ballot for Hillary Clinton. I first became aware of Hillary when I was a freshman in high school. She was the wife of the saxophone playing, democratic presidential candidate, another white man in a long list of white men along side and before him. I remember thinking how different she was than Nancy Reagan, who I thought of as proper and a proponent of the DARE program that visited my school in 6th grade. But, Hillary, she was a LAWYER. Law is a profession I have long admired. And she was a woman lawyer, something that felt rare and unattainable.

Then came the scandals, and I felt horrified for this graceful woman who stood there, and watched as the scandals lit fires around. I remember her being graceful above it all.

I have since learned that Hillary has been a long time proponent of issues affecting women and children. Issues affecting women and children are central to my life then and now. And she is one that has stood tall to defend and strengthen and empower. Women, children, and healthcare. Issues she has now worked on for DECADES.

Today, I am voting. Today, I am voting in a state that does “vote by mail”, so I can get my ballot in early. It’s not electronic, it’s paper, and it will be counted by hand and aided by machine. And, today, I am proudly casting my vote for a slew of women candidates. Hillary, Chloe, and Teressa.

Cottonwood in the Flood

I had the opportunity to view a special showing of Cottonwood in the Flood, Saturday, June 11 at the International Firehouse Cultural Center (IFCC). Bottom line: two thumbs up, beautiful exploration of history through the lens of one family.

I graduated from Portland State University in 2008 (unbeknownst to me, it started as Vanport College). In my studies, which focused on urban planning, community development, and geography, Vanport was mentioned a few times. It can be summarized thus: ship building, segregation, and a big flood. The conversation was sometimes the start of tracking a history of Portland race relations where, often, poor and black found themselves the object of eminent domain (Memorial Coliseum, Legacy-Emmanuel Hospital, I-5 corridor), and most recently the increase of gentrification in North Portland. What was never clear to me was where Vanport was, who it really affected, and how we could have let something like this happen with the flood.

A friend in housing-social justice recommended I see Cottonwood in the Flood, so when the opportunity presented itself, I had to say yes.

Cottonwood in the Flood, written by local playwright Rich Rubin and directed by local artist Damaris (rhymes with “glamorous”) Webb, was a beautiful collage of local headlines, radio reports, and relevant history, knit together through the story of one family. The companion piece is the exhibit IFCC hosted on their second floor gallery, where you can see maps, local headlines, and other stories about what happened in Vanport.

What happened in Vanport – it has ended with a muddled history and retelling, until now. For example, to give a nod to the suffering, there is a display on one of the transit stops giving space for the history where it happened. It would be like taking all the suffering of Hurricane Katrina and siphoning it to one train stop. A train stop that has a particular audience, is off the beaten bath, and you have to be in the know to know it’s even there.

Thanks to people like Damaris Webb and Rich Rubin, along with the actors in the play and their community partners, we can explore this complex history more fully. Rich Rubin’s play, Cottonwood in the Flood, explores the allure of hope and a better way for a family under the cloud of war. His play explains the changing tensions, the unfairness, the subtle racisms, the overt racisms, the government double speak, while telling it through a family you easily fall in love with. Grandpa, mom, dad, and two brothers, who all they want is a better life where they can achieve their own human potential. It’s their story of how they navigate the social constraints, how it affects their moods, their livelihoods, and how they overcome … or don’t.

I spent four years at Portland State, and I never got a comprehensive story of what Vanport was. Two hours plus a 30 minute discussion, and I finally have a working understanding of the hope, the devastation, and the work we have to do to never forget.

See also…

The Mercury’s review
Vanport Mosaic
Damaris Webb
Rich Rubin

The Reading List

What have you been reading the last two weeks? On my list are some things like:

What sticks out in your mind as news of the last bit?