Saturday, September 30, 2006

GOOD Magazine

While on the plane to and from Peru I had A LOT of time to read. I read my new issue of Ode, With All Our Strength by Anne Brodsky, and a new magazine, GOOD. I'd been looking forward to GOOD for a while after Green LA Girl wrote about it, and after talking to Christine Soto at the GOOD Magazine booth at the Craigslist Foundation Boot Camp. Christine was nice enough to send me a review copy before I left on my trip.

It is a big, beautiful magazine printed on thick paper with lots of photos and illustrations. It feels like a print version of Current TV (Al Gore is an Associate Publisher) with short, visual articles like Peter Allsop's review of the movie Our Daily Bread, Zach Frechette's description of the NYChildren photo series, and portraits of Dan Barber (creative director of the Stone Barnes Center for Food and Agriculture), Peter Diamandis (founder of the X Prize Foundation), Marjora Carter (founder and executive director of Sustainable South Bronx), Chris Simcox (executive director of Minuteman Civil Defense Corps), Matt and Jessica Flannery (founders of Kiva), Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia) and Amanda Congdon (former vlogger for Rocketboom).

One of my favorite articles was "The American Family Grows Up" by Neil Pollack which describes how, "middle-class American families are being forced to live, almost entirely, without a net", which he exemplifies with a story about his son putting a rock up his nose. The family's Blue Cross insurance has a "surgery deductible" and, "according to Blue Cross, sticking a tube up a child's nose to extract a rock is 'surgery.'" They had to pay $600 to have it removed.

The photos from the Border Film Project taken by migrants and minutemen were pretty cool, I appreciated the 8-page visual guide to the midterm elections, and the No Senator Left Behind chart comparing US Senators' educational background and salary with the average person's educational background was fascinating.

Overall, I enjoyed the magazine and turned down lots of page corners of things I wanted to remember, or go back to later. My only concerns with the mag are that 1. only about 25% of the articles were written by women, and 2. It has a very young feel to it. I am 37 and I felt like an "old" reader. I hope that folks older than me will want to read it, too.

I sent in my subscription. It's $20 and 100% goes to the charity of your choice: Ashoka, City Year, Creative Commons, Donors Choose, GenerationEngage, Millennium Promise, Oceana, Room to Read, Teach for America, WITNESS, World Wildlife Fund or UNICEF. I chose UNICEF.

Photo from GOOD Magazine Flickr Stream.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Back from Peru

Hello Have Fun * Do Good Readers!

I just got back from an amazing two-week trip to Peru. I'll start posting Have Fun * Do Good news soon, but in the meantime, here are a few photos from my trip:

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Mom in the Movement: Lisa Russ of the Movement Strategy Center

How do you balance working for social change, with the work of being a mom? Lisa Russ, the Associate Director of the Movement Strategy Center, shares the joys and challenges of being a new mom working for social change.

The Movement Strategy Center is a nonprofit organization in Oakland, CA that is committed to advancing the next generation of leaders for a sustainable progressive movement. The Center helps to build local, regional, and national networks of young activists, across interests, constituencies and geographies.

You can listen to the interview on the Big Vision Podcast.

How do you balance your work at the Movement Strategy Center with the work of being a mom?

Someone said to me, before I had Zach, that every organization should be full of working mothers because they are the most efficient people around. I wasn't a working mother then, I wasn't exactly sure what she meant, but I knew from seeing her that it seemed true. It definitely has changed my sense of time. Being a working mother means doing everything as quickly, and well and efficiently as I can.

I was worried before I had him that I would be one of those mothers who is always late for day care because I'm not someone who has ever been able to leave work on time. But I'm not late to get him because you really cannot be late to get your kid at daycare, because they charge you, and also it means a lot to me to be there on time for him. He looks around for me, and gets excited for me to come. I have become a person who actually leaves work when she is supposed to. That's a big change. And I work at night, and I work on the weekends,and I feed Zach while I'm checking my email. There's a lot of multi-tasking, but I've always been a multi-tasker, so that comes pretty naturally.
How has being a mom changed your work?
Before I had Zach, I was definitely a busyaholic, you know a workaholic, busy-addict kind of person running around and running around and people were like, "What are you running away from?" and, "Why are you so busy?" and I was like, "Nothing, I'm happy, this is the way I am!" There was so much to do, and I felt driven by my work and really rewarded by it, and not just paid work, but also all these volunteer things and other community stuff -- feeling really involved and feeling engaged. Whenever I felt like I could do something that was going to have some kind of impact, that gave me a lot of energy.

Becoming a mother has meant that I don't have the time or energy to do that. It's a huge change for me to go from being out almost every night and from being busy almost all the time, and obviously as a mother I am still busy but it's a very, very different kind of busy. Being with Zach is tremendously rewarding for me in a different kind of way. So, I think that some of the things that, it turns out, I was running away from, have kind of caught up to me. Something I probably share with a lot of people who do this work is, feeling like I was doing something meaningful was my way of coping with fear about the world, and despair about the world. By working on whatever project, I could keep one step ahead of the fear and the despair.

Having Zach really brought into focus for me this tremendous stake in the future that I hadn't had in the same way before. Before I was like "OK, whatever, maybe we are going to burn this planet to hell and we probably deserve it, but who cares?" in a way. Not literally, but it's like what we are doing as a species to the place where we live is so unfathomable that in a way there was a throw up my hands aspect to it, even though I was engaged in what I could do to prevent that, or work against that tide. Within a few months of Zach being born, I was just getting all these really strong fears about him not making it to adulthood. He was born two months before Katrina, which sort of crystallized for a lot of people fears about global warming, and also fears about the inadequacies of our government and our systems to respond to needs.

I think that sort of started a wave of panic about the future, and of feeling like, really thinking about him not making it. And of course this year, after Katrina there also has been the bird flu scare, it has also been the 100th anniversary of the earthquake, the war in Iraq and then this war between Israel and Lebanon, and Israel's own war on Gaza, on Palestine -- so there has just been a lot of like Armageddon in the air and I definitely, for maybe six months of Zach's life, got preoccupied by this fear.

So, just having spent so much of my life managing that fear through work, it was really intense to all of a sudden sit with that fear in a new way. The other thing that happened as part of the transition to motherhood was understanding global life through the eyes of a mother and a parent. I think I'd always thought, whatever, you could certainly look into Palestine and think, "Oh my God, those mothers, how are they feeding those kids? And those fathers, and how do they feel?" But the level that it hits me in my stomach now when I imagine what it must feel like during the air raids in Gaza and Lebanon to not be able to keep your child safe, and to be laying there with your child and not be able to say, and mean, "Everything's going to be OK. I can protect you." That is so fathomable now.

I really empathize with what I can imagine people are going through and just get really horrified by it. So in terms of what this means about the work, my work at its core is about building movements for social change and social justice. I have to do that work, because I have always had to do that work, and now I am driven to do that work from an even deeper place because of feeling both a fear about the present and the near future. A hope about it, too -- my hope for what the world (although I have to dust it off and fan the fire) it's also there, and I want to feed that hope and I want to bring Zach into a hopeful world.

So keeping myself going and keeping myself engaged in the work is really important, and I can't do it in the same way I used to--going to lots of events and getting the same charge that I used to. A friend of mine is doing civil disobedience tomorrow, and when he first told me about it I was like "Yeah, of course I'll do that with you." It's about Israel and Lebanon and I was like, "I'll definitely do that, I'll definitely do that." And then I realized, "Oh the time it is, I will be in jail when I need to be picking my kid up from school, so I cannot actually do it." Which is just another example of -- engaging means something different now, and I think I'm still struggling to really know what that means, and I know on a heart level it's going to be a deep and rich kind of engagement, and it's a new engagement.

One aspect of this that people have been working on and thinking about, and it's pretty obvious, is just, "What do you do with your kids?" I just went through a funny experience of wanting to go to a training, a several day training, leadership training, that was on-site a couple hours away and didn't provide child care. So I was like, "How is a nursing mom supposed to go?" Being a nursing mother means that you have to see your kids -- if they are young, all the time, and if they are older like Zack, at least a couple times a day, or once a day.

Negotiating my autonomy and my closeness with Zach and how it relates to me going out into the world and doing other things -- I think it is really common for mothers in this work to struggle with that. I guess what I want to say is when Zach was first born it was like, "Oh, you have little baby, and of course you take time" and then it was just sort of, "OK, come back and be back and just do this stuff." That's what I would have expected of myself too, and not really realizing it's still really hard to go to events at night. It's still a huge thing for me to go away overnight to lead trainings, or be a part of workshops. It's all these underlying questions about creating the change that you want to see, and what that means in terms of what kind of house Zach grows up in.

I don't think that that means that Zach needs a mommy who's there all the time, but it also means to me that he feels a sense of safety and security that I am there when he needs me. I think for every person, finding that balance is one of the cruxes of this parenting puzzle. Everybody has to find it in their own way, and every kid is different. I think what's hard to realize -- what was hard to really know before I had a kid -- was that we all have ideas about what it's going to be like before we have a kid. "I'll always do this, and I'll never do that and only cloth diapers and no TV and no sugar" or whatever it is. I think everyone is transformed by parenting. I certainly was. So even who I thought I was, even while pregnant, is different than who I am now, and Zach is his own self. It turned out for example, I used to be the kind of person who definitely judged other parents as lame when they wouldn't go out at night. I thought that was really weird, or when they seemed like a slave to their kid's nap schedule or sleep schedule. And then Zach came along and it turned out that from a very young age, Zach needed to be home at night, and night for Zach meant by 5:00, 5:30 PM.

I'd be invited to an event that'd be from 5-7 PM and people would be like, "Oh this must be great for you. This seems like a really child friendly time schedule," and I'm like, "You would think so, and I would have thought so, but the truth is that Zach needs to be home and Adam's still working, and I'm still nursing and it's a real hard time for me to leave him, even with a babysitter, a friend or whatever, and so I actually can't go." And now that he's fourteen months that is much, much, much less true, but that's been a very long time in coming, and it's only really recently that I have a lot more flexibility in the evenings and at night to get around.

So in terms of this balance thing it's sort of this question thing about how much I'm there, how much I'm leading, how much I'm following Zach's lead, and I'm obviously still very much learning, but it's a lot more complicated and individual than I ever could have seen, or that I realized before I started
In addition to generous maternity leave and child care at events, how can nonprofits best support working moms?
That's a great question. Yeah, I can name a couple things. Generous maternity leave and child care at events is really important. Other things I would say are really important, or have been very important for me, have been a flexible work schedule. I came back part time and I work three quarter time. And I'm flexible about that too. That doesn't mean I'm never working, whatever, the off hours. But childcare is so expensive that it's really hard, basically on a nonprofit salary, even a generous nonprofit salary, it's almost impossible to pay for full-time childcare. Most people need to piece something together and have some kind of flexibility.

Being able to work part time at a schedule that I could make work around my day care was completely critical. We go to a wonderful daycare that is set up for working families that is actually not that flexible because they need to keep some things in place that works for working families. So I needed to be flexible on my side to be able to leave work early, to be able to get the kind of schedule that we could afford at the daycare.

The other thing that's really important for work, last week I got a call from the daycare that Zach had contracted a daycare virus and that I had to go pick him up right a way so he wouldn't keep spreading it. So I finished what I was doing, closed my computer, and left. And when I was telling someone, "Oh yeah, I had to run out and get Zach." They were like, "Was work OK with you leaving?" And I was like, "Well what would I have done if they weren't?" But it really made me think. Of course I had things I had to cancel and manage, but that was up to me to do.

It's both being able to set a schedule that's realistic for me to be able to parent and work in an ongoing way, and also to have flexibility when we need it to handle sick kids and other things that come up. I mean sick providers come up too. So I guess once, you're in the petri dish of group child care, things are really unpredictable, and just a workplace that to whatever degree rolls with those punches is really important.

Two more things I want to add to that list. One is about trave, and like I said, traveling with a kid for work is hard, and not traveling because you can't, because you have the kid, is also hard. But we at the Movement Strategy Center have tried to really take the heat off the parents to need to travel, and I mean one question that's huge that needs a lot of wrestling with is really what that means for the non-parents and how much more of the work their absorbing. I think that's a really important question, and we've been very mindful of that, or tried to be. I think we're still on a learning curve. We've tried to make travel schedules for parents as minimal and realistic as possible, and that's been very important.

The other thing that's been really wonderful here is just the work culture and welcoming the kids in, whether it's the kids stopping by the office, or just curiosity about the life of parenting and our children. I was the third, of the three of us, who had kids within a year. And I think when Taj had Kiyomi first, it was much more of a strange thing and a novelty, and now it's become more understood. I guess what I'm thinking is that our work culture has changed in a way, our whole organizational culture - the things that we talk about, the firsts that we share in staff meetings, or whatever, and just the way we think about like, oh we're going to go do something together as a staff. Is it a happy hour, or is it a lunch?

It's just sort of all these little things that have made it really wonderful to be here, and I've been able to really feel like a part of things, and I think so has Zach. But it's a subtle change. Like any sort of "diversity" issue, it is best addressed through numbers. There's three of us out of eleven or twelve now that are parents so there is kind of a critical mass. I've thought so many times about the things I've said and done before I was a parent, not understanding where the other parents were coming from.
Have there been other moms in the movement who you've been able to lean on for support?
Oh yeah. Right when I was coming back to work and I started having a panic, I sent an email out to about seven or eight people saying like, "Oh my god, oh my god. Daycare tomorrow," or I actually remember what it was. I was still at home with Zach, working part time, but I had to go to San Francisco and facilitate a full day meeting and be away from him for the first full day, which of course now sounds like nothing, but he was only four months old and it seemed really hard and I was in a real panic about it.

During each of these milestones I've been able to reach out to people, and working mothers, especially working mothers who have been working in the social change, social justice movement, have been hugely important to me. As each new things happens it's so overwhelming, and it's really hard to jump across the chasm of never having left Zach for a day, or never having left Zach for most of the week, and I still haven't done the leave Zach overnight, but I'm getting to the point where I need to do that for work.

Having these other moms with some perspective over time has been enormously helpful for me. I don't think I could be here right now without them having carved the way and shown that it's possible, and let me see them as really being vibrant, brilliant, amazing workers as mothers, even as they've been tremendously engaged parents who've had to make different kinds of decisions during their years as mothers. I'm thinking about two who have kindergarteners now, so that gives me a nice long view.
Do you have any advice for new moms working for social change?
The biggest thing on my mind right now is being gentle with yourself. I think part of what mothers have to offer other people in the movement is a slightly slower approach to life. I know for me that transition from really fast to pretty slow was a hard one, and I really needed to find ways to be gentle with myself, to adjust to the new pace, and to not try and push myself to hard either in work or things outside of work about what I should be doing, where I should be going, how I should be feeling. And I guess what I really needed for that was the support of my co-workers and my friends and other parents.

I guess the piece of advice that I can offer is, it's been the most intense transition of my life, and whatever you can do to make space for yourself to have that transition, and find the people and places that are supportive of you finding your way as a mother, rather than pushing the expectation that you should be the same, you should be delivering at the same level, the same kinds of things. Just chose wisely. Choose who is around you, and what you're listening to, because the pressures are really intense and you're going to need a lot of love and a lot of support for you to find your own new way.

I think part of the reason I even started with this story is about the intense fear and feeling about the world in a different way, is because for me, I really know that that is going to allow me to be even more valuable working for social change over time with this degree of feeling that I now have, and this connection that I have with mothers all over the world. As you change shape and pace and view, just recognize, you will be equally amazing and even more brilliant and gifted in ways that you never knew, and so just trust that process and enjoy it. It's amazing.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Celebrity Gossip Without the Guilt

I consume way too much celebrity gossip. I've got Pink is the New Blog and A Socialite's Life in my feed reader; buy US Weekly and People to "send to my grandma" (which I do, after I've read them); will flip back and forth between Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood if I'm home alone (my husband is a sensible man who thinks America's celebrity culture is gross), and don't even try to schedule anything the night of the Golden Globes.

So how happy was I when the blogger, Eco Chick, wrote a post about the celebrity-filled Rainforest Action Network benefit gala (oh, to have been there), and mentioned the blog, ecorazzi, which highlights green celebrities. Fun!

Check out the eco-celebrity sites from their sidebar:

Daryl Hannah
Woody Harrelson
Leonardo DiCaprio
Ed Begley, Jr.
Ed Norton

Like any good addict, am I deluding myself that this is the "good" celebrity gossip. Probably. Did I add it to my Bloglines account. Yep.

Collage from MyHeritage Face Recognition. Click here to find your celebrity look alike.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Solutionary Women: Nola Brantley of the Scotlan Youth and Family Center

Nola is as old as the Center she works for, thirty, and over the past two years, she has become an expert on sexually exploited minors in Oakland and has watched as the population grows.

"It's increasing, and not only is it increasing, the young ladies are getting more savvy. Because some of them that went in at 14, now they're 16, or 17, and they're actually recruiting 12 or 13 year olds. So they're getting a little bit more savvy because a mass number of young people have been involved in it now for the past several years, and there's organizations like CAL-PEP [California Prostitutes Education Project], who have been doing work with prostitutes for thirty years, and they're even blown away by the number of young girls involved in prostitution."

Last month, I had an opportunity to interview Nola, who is the Director of the Parenting and Youth Enrichment Department, and the Coordinator of the Sexually Abused and Commercially Exploited Youth Program at the Scotlan Youth and Family Center. When I asked her why teenage prostitution is so prevalent in Oakland, she said,

"Because they can do it here. . . Pimps identify this as a good place to pimp underage girls. Underage girls identify this as a place to prostitute where they most likely won't get caught, or if they do get caught, consequences won't be a big deal, and men who like to buy sex, men or women, it's mostly been men, who like to buy sex from underage girls, know that Oakland's a good place to get a girl under 18 who's a prostitute.

We have girls that come from out of state to prostitute in Oakland who are under 18, and I've asked them, 'Well, how did you end up in Oakland?' and they'll say, 'Don't you know that everywhere else, coming to Oakland to do your thing is a big thing?'"

Some of the things that Nola has found helps the girls she works with are having an advocate that they can trust present from the time that they make contact with police, and having a safe place to stay for an extended period of time. Unfortunately, Alameda County doesn't have a safe house, although it is an essential component to the girls' being able to change their lives, as Nola explains,

"If there was a 14 year old girl, let's say she's a foster care youth. So she doesn't have a mother, father, any stable family. She's a foster care youth, which means she's part of the system. She's staying in a group home, let's say. And say she's out there prostituting and she has a vicious pimp. And she wants to get out of it, but she knows that she can't just stop because he won't let her. And she knows that he'll come right to her group home and kick the front door in and drag her out of it. There's no place to send her where she could be safe, like a refuge. You know, there's no place in this whole County, for girls in this County, where we can say, 'Okay, you want to get out? Okay, you're going to be able to go to this place, this is a place where you can stay, you can get your life together.' We don't have that yet, and so that's something we're working towards. We have some things in the works, but it just can't happen fast enough when there are 12 year old girls out there prostituting. It can't happen fast enough."

Despite the challenges, there are success stories:

"One of the things that I do is, I go out with the Oakland Police Department when they do prostitution sweeps, and when they bring in prostitutes under the age of 18, then I have to be their advocate on the scene. Probably about a year and a half ago now, I was on a sweep with the police, and they brought in a young girl, and she was from out of state, and she ended up going to Juvenile Hall, and she hadn't given her right name. So she was in Juvenile Hall for about a month, and we were getting ready to send her off to a program in LA called Children of the Night, it's a volunteer program for prostitutes who are under 18 who want to make a life change and have their school on-site, and stuff like that, it's a comprehensive program.

Well, the day before she was supposed to go, a report came through from the state showing that she was a missing person and showing what her real name was. I ended up being able to get in contact with her mother, and her mother came down to come to the court date in this County. It turned out she had all kinds of warrants in the state she was from because she was involved in a big prostitution ring out there where there was a female madam who was prostituting all these girls under 18. It got busted, and everyone was in danger. It was just crazy. She was in a lot of mess. So they decided to let the warrants go as long as she went through the program that was recommended by this County, and she ended up becoming a 600, which is a minor who would be on probation though Alameda County Probations Department, and we ended up finding a placement for her in a group home that was out of this immediate area, and that we had had success before with other girls. She was in Juvenile Hall for like two or three months and the whole time she was in the Hall, I was able to keep in touch with her, go visit her, and I was able to keep in touch with the family, who was out of state. Then she went to the group home, and she's been there for a year now, and she's doing well.

She's going to school, you know, she's been able to go home on five day passes to visit her family, and she had come from a history of abuse, too, within the home. So she ran to the streets in the beginning, because of the abuse in the home, to prostitute. She prostituted in her state, she ended up out here prostituting, and then through the intervention of the program, she was able to turn her life around, and she has completely cleaned her life up. Her mom's even saying that soon she thinks that she'll be ready to come back home, and her mom moved from where they lived at previously so that when she comes back home she'll be coming into a different environment. . . . She had a lot of risk factors that presented themselves, that said that she wouldn't get out of the life, that she'd be someone that might stay in the life for the rest of her life, and she completely turned it around."

Nola's passion for her work, comes from a very personal place,

"I was sexually exploited [as a minor], and I was preyed upon by a police officer in San Francisco who was supposed to be working a court program that interacted with high school students, and he actually ended up sexually exploiting me over the course of the next year, and he did eventually exploit another minor too, and ended up getting kicked off of the police force. I didn't realize that I had been sexually exploited until I first started to get into this work, and when I realized I had a personal experience with it, it really gave me a passion, and really made me want to get involved, because I understood how much the girls don't understand they're being exploited at the time that it's happening. For a lot of these girls, their stories, and their situations were so, so horrific.

Not a lot of people can do this work, because not a lot of people could even deal with what they have to do as they listen to these girls' stories. You think most of these girls, they're just troubled girls. No, most of these girls that are out there, they have some horrific stores, like, 'My mom died and I was passed around to three relatives,' 'I was molested by an uncle.' It's not anything small. They have really huge stories of past trauma and past abuse, and just all kinds of things. I got kind of attached to the population, too, and I wanted to see the work play itself through. I want to see the numbers in the city of Oakland decrease, so I'm committed to sticking to doing this until there's a drop. As long as it's increasing, I'm not going to walk away from it."

If you would like to get involved in your community around these issues, here are a few steps Nola suggests that you take:

"The police department is one avenue, although I wouldn't say it's the only avenue. Because through the police department, they have units that work with the community. So that's a really good place to start, like if you started to go to those community meetings that are held by the police department, and it's by a non-uniformed person, then that would be a really good place to start and organize and say, 'Where in our city are we seeing this happen? What's the best response to this?' Because it is going to be different city to city. . . Now, if it's folks here in Oakland, and they want to help with this, they can call me, here at the Scotlan Center, because basically, for the city of Oakland, even for the County of Alameda, right now we're like the clearinghouse for people who are interested in working with sexually exploited minors.

Also, you can go to local community service agencies, if you're in a different city, and try to find out if they're already working with this population, and if they are, how you might be able to help. I mean, one way you can just help, which is really general, it doesn't matter where you live, is just by raising awareness. Talk to a young girl about what's the difference between a pimp and boyfriend. You know, talk to a young girl just about a healthy relationship. Or just take time to mentor a young girl, because you can prevent this too, just by reaching out to a young person, and I keep saying girl, but there are lots of boys being sexually exploited, too.

If there's nothing happening in your city, and you want to start something, then have a meeting with some of the different systems, like maybe your juvenile probation department, your police department and your social services agency, because these are going to be the three main systems that most of the minors that are involved in exploitation are going to end up running through. They're either already foster youth, or they'll get arrested, or they'll end up at Juvenile Hall."

You can contact Nola Brantely at the Scotlan Youth and Family Center at (510) 832-1490 or by email at nolabrantley AT yahoo DOT com. You can hear this interview in its entirety on The Big Vision Podcast, and if you know a Solutionary Woman who you think should be profiled, please contact me at britt AT

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The International Museum of Women Wants Your Story (Men Too!)

After including Imagining Ourselves: Global Voices from a New Generation of Women in my post about Giving Circle Book Groups, someone from the International Museum of Women asked me if I would post the submission guidelines for Imagining Ourselves, "an online global exhibit featuring art, photographs, essays and film by young women in their 20s and 30s answering the questions, "What defines your generation?"

They are accepting film, audio, images and text on these issues:

War & Dialogue: Women's Perspectives
Deadline for submissions: October 1, 2006
Let us take you beyond the headlines and show you how war is affecting the lives of young women around the world-both in conflict zones and outside them. As a result of recent fighting, millions of people are living in diaspora, migration is the trademark of this generation; what is it like to start a new life in a new place? We are interested to hear your personal experiences, your thoughts on media stereotypes of certain religious and ethnic groups, and your views on how violent conflict has affected your life. What are the positive contributions young women are making towards resolving wars- both in their own countries and globally? The media doesn't tell us all the stories, especially once the world has moved on to the next hotspot. Tell us yours.

Young Men: How Do We See Each Other?
Deadline for submissions: December 1, 2006
We have spent all this time finding out what women around the world think about the world and the issues affecting them. But now we’re taking the time to ask young men the same question. We want to know how young men regard young women when it comes to the topics we have explored so far in Imagining Ourselves. Browse our exhibit and give us your views.
Themes to consider:
Love – dating and marriage,
Money – balancing work and family and equal pay for equal work
Culture & Conflict – migration, devotion and conflict
The Future – charting a path
Motherhood: A Life-Changing Experience
Deadline for submissions: February 1, 2007
One of the most life-changing experiences in a woman’s life is that of having and caring for a child. These days women are having children later and some are not having children at all. Family structures around the world are changing, yet mothers are most often the parent who will stay at home with young children. Child birth itself is a risk for many mothers around the world. Did you know that the 530,000 annual deaths that arise from pregnancy and childbirth complications are preventable? Share your stories on motherhood with us, and discuss your ideas on better maternal healthcare worldwide.
Image & Identity: Culture behind clothes
Deadline for submissions: May 1, 2007
Appearances aren’t everything, or are they? Join us in exploring the world of self-expression. Some people express themselves through the style of clothes they wear. Clothes can express a part of who we are or the culture we represent. A lot of young women today are also becoming increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability. Are green, recycled, or eco-chic clothes a part of your wardrobe? In a time when going to the plastic surgeon is as easy as booking an appointment at the dentist, what kind of body image do young women have today? Send us your answers to these questions and your work. We are looking for original clothing designs, photographs, film, essays and more. These months are all about exploring the different ways we shape our identity (express ourselves), whether it be through our culture, the music we listen to, or the clothes we wear. How do you express yourself?

Film Festival: A cinematic experience online
Deadline for submissions: July 1, 2007
Take part in this unique experience – a two month film festival – online! This is an amazing chance for up and coming women filmmakers to have their work viewed by a worldwide audience. We are looking for all types of films – documentaries, short films, animation, music videos, basically any kind of film you can think of, they just have to be made by a female director.
For more information about how to submit your story, click here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Square Foot Garden

I spent the weekend getting my garden ready for Fall. It is a small space that up until now I have only planted flowers in, but I think I am going to try putting in some winter vegetables. In Northern California you can still grow veggies like lettuce, spinach, leeks and chard.

If you have only a small space for a garden, I saw this link on to a post that describes how to build a square foot garden (photo above).

I thought this was a really cool way to have a garden in a small space, and could be a great tool for school gardens.

Photo from

Friday, September 01, 2006

Giving Circle Book Group: Books by Women Visionaries and Their Organizations

I've posted a couple of times about giving circles, groups of people who get together to learn about an organization's work, and pool their donations to have a greater impact. Because I love to read, I've been thinking it would be cool to have a Giving Circle Book Group where the group reads an inspiring book by a nonprofit, or an individual affiliated with a nonprofit, and then gives to that cause.

If you're interested, here is a starter list of books by visionary women and their organizations:

Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam by Zainab Salbi and Laurie Becklund. Salbi is the President of Women for Women International, an organization that helps women affected by war to rebuild their lives.

With All Our Strength by Anne Brodsky. Brodsky documents the inside story of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). According to their site, "RAWA is the oldest political/social organization of Afghan women struggling for peace, freedom, democracy and women's rights in fundamentalism-blighted Afghanistan since 1977."

Imagining Ourselves: Global Voices from a New Generation of Women, an anthology edited by Paula Goldman for the International Museum of Women.

Harvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating by Jane Goodall. Jane Goodall has founded so many things including the Jane Goodall Institute, and Roots and Shoots, a community service program for young people. (This was my favorite book of 2005).

Paradigm Found: Leading and Managing for Positive Change by Anne Firth Murray. Murray founded the Global Fund for Women.

Hope's Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappe. Mother and daughter founded the Small Planet Fund to support the citizen-led solutions that they document in their book. (2006 isn't over yet, but so far this is my favorite book of the year).

Book cover image via Rainbow Bookstore Cooperative.