Category Archives: minnesota women

Women’s March — Is that all there is?

Remember this? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCRZZC-DH7M

The pussyhat has been decommissioned and passed on to someone who needs a hat-cum-history, the dust has settled and the world has not shifted on its axis. Is that all there is?

Not so, say tens of thousands of women, families, marchers and observers who experienced last weekend’s Women’s March – which has now become more like the March that raised awareness of the obvious.

For those interested in catching up and keeping up, there are boundless opportunities.

Some articles that suggest response and follow-up:

http://nymag.com/thecut/2017/01/next-steps-after-the-womens-march.html

This is but a sampling of what’s happening  – the Women’s March is not history history, only  the beginning.  It is definitely not “all there is.”

Extra, Extra – Read all about it!!!

 

UPDATE — Save those placards!

http://theartnewspaper.com/news/news/signs-of-the-times-museums-preserve-the-placards-from-the-women-s-marches-/

IMPORTANT UPDATE

Gloria Everson
January 27 at 6:27pm
Hello-

Since this is an event page and our event is over, there are some things Facebook won’t allow us to do here. We need to transition, but it will not happen overnight.

We still have so much work to do; therefore, here are a new business page and a new group page. You know how important posts could get lost as more and more posts were added to the feed? The business page helps us with that. This page will not change often but will allow the important stuff to be easily located.

The group page is more of a social page. The privacy settings are on ‘open’ now, so anyone can join. In about two weeks, we will change it to a ‘closed’ group, which simply means new people need to be approved and any current member of the page can do the approving.

It will be tough moving from our home, but it is for the best if we want to move forward. Please ‘like’ and ‘follow’ both of these pages.

New Business/Non-profit page
https://www.facebook.com/HearOurVoiceMN/

New Group page
https://www.facebook.com/groups/375965222773592/

Don’t miss this graphic depiction of the March!

http://hyperallergic.com/354457/the-womens-march-the-first-28-hours/?utm_source=sumome&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=sumome_share

 

 NEW: Comic take on the Women’s March:  http://hyperallergic.com/354071/a-comics-newspaper-for-the-womens-resistance/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Fights%20to%20Withhold%20Paintings%20from%20Capitol%20Hill%20Show%20Their%20Political%20Power%20Daily&utm_content=Fights%20to%20Withhold%20Paintings%20from%20Capitol%20Hill%20Show%20Their%20Political%20Power%20Daily+CID_7b37e2121a87596416f702b8dd5da3bc&utm_source=HyperallergicNewsletter&utm_term=A%20Comics%20Newspaper%20for%20the%20Womens%20Resistance

Women’s March on Washington – Minnesota Style

Though some of us may know a politico or campaign contributor who is headed to DC for the inauguration later this month, most of us know (and envy) a friend or family who will be visiting Our Nation’s Capitol the following day to join the Women’s March on Washington. (https://www.womensmarch.com) on Saturday, January 21, not coincidentally the day after the Inauguration. These are the Minnesota marchers who will be hopping on the bus – or more convenient transport — to venture 1100 miles, don a fuchsia pussy hat and join hundreds of colleagues at the Capitol, then march from the Capitol  down the Mall to share a determined message to the new regime.

What some Minnesotans may not yet know is that the Women’s March on Washington has spawned a nation of state and local “sister” marches throughout the nation. None will be more energetic, committed, informed — probably cold – than the Minnesota marchers. Here are the basics as found on the very lively FB site for the Minnesota march: (https://www.facebook.com/events/1798874673734173/)

Starting at 10am we will meet on the John Ireland Blvd Bridge in front of Minnesota History Center (near the corner of John Ireland Blvd and Kellogg Blvd). From 10-11am we plan to get pumped up, meet one another, form new friendships and likely hear from a motivational speaker (who is yet to be determined). Please plan to arrive no later than 10:30am. At 11am we will start our march heading northeast on John Ireland Blvd toward the Capitol. We plan to arrive at the Capitol around 11:30/12pm. From 12pm until 2pm we will have a rally including entertainment, speakers, etc. If you are unable to participate in the march itself but wish to participate in this event, please feel free to join us at the Capitol around noon. The rally will end at 2pm.

These days both the national and, even more, the Minnesota sites are bursting with updates, anecdotes, calls to action and more! Anyone with a device and a comfy chair can keep up with the latest, share ideas, express an opinion and support the marchers in Minnesota and in DC.

There will be a post event gathering at sites around the state, including at the East Side Freedom Library which is opening its doors, providing hot beverages and encouraging marchers, including virtual marchers, to share their experiences, opinions, commitments and hopes. (http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/event/womens-march-open-house/)

UPDATE: Emily’s List announcement:  http://www.msnbc.com/hardball/watch/emily-s-list-to-sponsor-women-s-march-on-washington-847831619542

UPDATE 1/6 – The Minnesota to Washington Women’s March has joined the blogosphere:     http://www.eramn.org/national-march-blog

Strong Women in the Life of Associate Justice McKeig

On Thursday, September 15, 2016, Anne K. McKeig took the oath of office as the newest member of the Minnesota Supreme Court.   As most Minnesotans know Associate Justice McKeig is the first American Indian member of the State’s highest court.

Along with many MPR listeners I learned more about McKeig when she was interviewed recently by host Tom Weber. (https://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/08/02/anne-mckeig) Inspired and intrigued by McKeig’s life story I have been thinking about the powerful women who, I must believe, have influenced her life. Since there exist countless McKeig interviews, features, photos, bios and factoids, I decided to focus here on a few women who almost certainly helped to shape her ideas and support her efforts, women who shared their strength with this promising young jurist.

These are not legal scholars, who obviously had a hand; they are instead strong women who served as role models along McTeig’s path to the Court. Though a realize there are countless others – these are the women who might be overlooked in the official narrative.

The first woman who comes to mind is Ruth Myers, known as the Mother of American Indian Education in Minnesota. A member of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe) Ruth broke ground as the first American Indian to serve on the Duluth School Board. She was later appointed by Governor Perpich to serve on the Minnesota State Board of Education, a policy-making board later deep-sixed by the Legislature.   Ruth was my role model and friend – to record her story I submitted a short piece for MnOpedia. (http://www.mnopedia.org/person/myers-ruth-1926-2001) I feel certain that, though she died in 2001, Ruth Myers left a path for the young McKeig to follow.

And then there is Cecilia Wattles McKeig, Anne’s mother. A graduate of the College of St. Catherine, Cecilia went on to earn a Masters degree in History from the University of Minnesota. She settled in Federal Dam, Minnesota, (the town of 110_ residents now made famous by McKeig) where she served for thirty years as Director of Indian Education at Northland High school.

Cecelia McKeig is herself a published author; her history of the Bemidji area was published by the Beltrami County History Center in 2013. (Bemidji: A Snapshot of Bemidji 1940-1960: Arcadia Publishing, 2013) Last Spring Ceceilia McKeig was honored with the St. Catherine University Medal of Distinction, in recognition of her work as educator and historian.

Following in her mother’s education footsteps, Anne McKeig graduated from St. Catherine University, a liberal arts college for women founded in 1905 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. The strength and wisdom of early – if undeclared – feminists lives on in the mission, the curriculum and, some would argue, the structures themselves.

It is no coincidence that McKeig’s recent swearing in ceremony took place at O’Shaughnessy Auditorium on the campus of St. Catherine University – or that the students from Northland High School performed a drum circle – or that the White Earth Color Guard posted colors — at that festive, and deeply meaningful, event.

Note: For a touching video of Justice McKeig, in which she expresses thanks for her mentors, including retired Justice Robert A. Blaeser and his wife click here: http://theuptake.org/2016/06/28/live-video-gov-dayton-appoints-a-supreme-court-justice/

 

 

Equal Means Equal – Time to get serious about the ERA!

Equality of rights under the law shall not be abridged

or denied on account of gender.

In recent weeks I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz around the theme Equal Means Equal.   Though the theme is of longer standing, I believe the local buzz was fanned by the t celebration of Women’s Equality Day on August 26. I must have been distracted by the start of the Great Minnesota Get-Together because, sad to say, I missed the occasion and the opportunity to learn more about this important movement. (http://www.nwhp.org/resources/commemorations/womens-equality-day)

Specifically, I missed the local screening and discussion  of Equal Means Equal sponsored by ERA Minnesota at the St. Anthony Main theater. I’ve been trying to catch up ever since. I’ve learned from attendees at the screening that ERA Minnesota not only showed the documentary, but lit the local ERA movement fire by hosting a panel that included powerful state and federal elected officials and leaders of the burgeoning Equal Means Equal movement.

No wonder there’s a buzz….

Just in case others, like me, are not up to speed on the full implication of Equal Means Equal here are some of the basics.

Equal Means Equal is a national campaign to tackle the challenge to (finally) pass the Equal Rights Amendment. The premise is that the need for a Constitutional Amendment must remain a priority.

The term Equal Means Equal is propelled and informed by leaders who have produced both a book and an award-winning documentary film that tell the compelling story:

Equal Means Equal: Why the Time for an Equal Rights Amendment Now is the book, written by Jessica Neuwirth, published in January 2015. The book “tells the story of the legal cases that inform the need for an ERA, along with contemporary cases in which women’s rights are compromised without the protection of an ERA.”  Topics covered in the book range from pay equity to violence against women to pregnancy discrimination and other stories that underscore needs that are not yet recognized or remedied..

The companion piece to the book is the documentary by the same name. Directed by Kamala Lopez the film has received numerous awards. The documentary, which features an all-star cast including Patricia Arquette, Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Smeal and others, presents real life stories and legal cases that depict the ways in which “outdated and discriminatory attitudes inform and influence seemingly disparate issues, from workplace harassment to domestic violence, rape and sexual assault to the foster care system, and the healthcare conglomerate to the judicial system.” Again, the thesis of the documentary is that present inadequate laws prove the compelling argument for passage of the ERA.

Needless to say, ERA Minnesota (http://www.eramn.org) can provide much more information on the book, the documentary and the Equal Means Equal campaign.

Though I’ve been slow to tune in to the buzz, I get it now and am eager to share the message!

BookWomen at 20: Celebrating the elegance of thriving

Surviving is important, but thriving is elegant ~ Maya Angelou

Though survival may have been on their minds when they launched Minnesota Women’s Press in 1985, Glenda Martin and Mollie Hoben have thrived – elegantly! In fact, they have just launched a celebration of their more recent twenty years as founders and leaders of The BookWomen Center for Feminist Reading, which is both a part and an outgrowth of Minnesota Women’s Press. The best known project of the Center is publication and global distribution of BookWomen, a bi-monthly journal designed to create “a readers’ community for those who love women’s words”.

Glenda and Mollie continue to thrive through their unstinting and endlessly creative work to give voice to women – women who write great books, women who reshape the political landscape, women who merit a platform to share their pain, women who are redefining the world of art, women who simply have much to say about literature and living.

Their tradition of amplifying the voices of others lives on as Mollie and Glenda celebrate another milestone.   The next issue of BookWomen will mark the completion of twenty years’ publication to inviting readers to share their thoughts. Questions to readers affirm their sincere commitment to learn and share – and thus thrive:

  • How did you get connected to BookWomen, and why have you stuck with us?
  • How has your own reading; life changed in the past 20 years”
  • What memorable book or other have you learned about from BookWomen?

For  two decades BookWomen readers have learned about great reads, personal experiences of readers and writers, literary news and views, updates on Reading on the Road retreats that have attracted vagabonds and locals at significant literary sites from Taos to the Coast of Maine to Iceland to Oaxaca, Mexico and England’s Lake District.

As one fortunate enough to have known the trajectory of Mollie’s and Glenda’s thriving since MWP was still a dream it has occurred to me how important it is for younger and newer followers of these women to know more about the narrative. We need to learn or remember the times and the impact of their commitment to share a critical light on the words of women – through Minnesota Women’s Press, later BookWomen and The Bookwomen Center.

The good news is that the narrative is preserved in print and in oral and video interviews they have generously shared. My hope is that readers of this blog will learn for the first time – or recall – more about Mollie and Glenda as they have shared their story.

  • My favorite interview with Mollie and Glenda was conducted in 1997 by beloved Minnesota poet Joanne Hart as part of the Northern Lights and Insights video series.  The interview  incorporates stories of the day when the MWP entrepreneurs not only published the newspaper but also hosted several reading groups and operated a bookstore (on Raymond off University) and a unique library of feminist literature contributed by readers and supporters of the enterprise. It is a forever treasure!(http://reflections.mndigital.org/cdm/ref/collection/p16022coll38/id/80)

Helpful histories of Minnesota Women’s Press were published when founders celebrated significant anniversaries of the Press. Here are some good backgrounder or refresher reads:

Back in the day, decades before the birth of The BookWomen Center for Feminist Reading, Virginia Wolfe lamented that “women have sat indoors all these millions of years, so that by this time the very walls are permeated by their creative force, which has, indeed, so overcharged the capacity of bricks and mortar that it must needs harness itself to pens and brushes and business and politics.” (A Room of One’s Own, 1929)

In recent decades the “creative force” of women has indeed harnessed itself to pens and brushes and business and politics.” Through it all Glenda and Mollie have thrived by shedding light on the power of women’s words to “overcharge the capacity of bricks and mortar.”

 

 

 

 

Celebrating women religious as visionary agents of change

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.  Mahatma Gandhi

As noted earlier on this blog March 8-14 was National Catholic Sisters Week. At random moments during the week I struggled to think of how to write something about the week and about the role of women religious, their history, their contributions, their leadership the challenge to achieve social justice in so many fields. Try as I might I couldn’t focus on a general theme that encompasses the enormity and complexity of the narrative – or that expresses my personal experience. The common thread, I’m finally beginning to realize, is the ability and willingness of the women religious I’ve known to embrace change. Thus, post -National Catholic Sisters Week tribute:

The change among women religious that everyone remembers is the shift that most community members made from restrictive habits to modern dress indicative of their worldly role. While memorable, that change is but a clue to the substantive change within the minds and hearts of the Sisters.

What the visible change indicated, in fact, was manifestation of a far more profound change in the role of women religious, a change credited in a 2011 “Essay in Theology” by Richard McBrien, Professor of Theology at Notre Dame University.   In his essay on “Women Religious’ embrace of Vatican II change commendable” McBrien notes the several changes happening in the Catholic Church during the 50’s and 60’s; he specifically cites “abolition of outmoded customs, the modification of habits and increased attention the professional education of sisters.” As a consequence, McBride observes,

Vatican II urged religious communities to return to their biblical roots and their founding charisms and to develop a greater measure of engagement with the modern world. Women religious, however, responded with more energy, creativity and enthusiasm than church officials anticipated, to the chagrin of more traditional nuns and ultra-conservative Catholics – the very type of both constituencies that applauded, and even instigated, the recent investigation of U.S. sisters and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious….”

While McBrien focuses on the impact of Vatican II, my experience is far more personal and actually pre-dates his post-Vatican II reflections. What follows is a stream-of-consciousness collage of vignettes that remind me – and I hope illustrate — my story of a lifetime of experience with women religious who, as individuals and communities, have not so much responded to change but have taken the lead to make change happen.

Some personal memories and observations may illustrate a common theme:

  • As a wet-behind-the-ears freshman at the College of St. Catherine in the early 60’s my first major assignment was to write a paper-of-consequence on the topic “The Idea of Progress”, a mighty challenge. Though I’m sure the paper was painfully naïve, it shaped my frame of reference for life.
  • Later in my college years, still in the early 60’s, I recall a professor heading a bus tour to St John’s University to hear the controversial theologian Hans Kung, whom we found not only inspiring, but very handsome……
  • In my first grown-up job I led a national Catholic college student organization that joined the struggle for civil rights at the federal level, a role that involved hordes of youth in the struggle for equal rights. There it was often the Sisters who supported not only the cause but us ardent young protesters – of every denominational persuasion – who knew little of the how’s and why’s of the movement.
  • Again, during the 60’s I spent endless hours learning about the techniques of educational technology. It was not until I saw a brilliant Sister using computer assisted learning for a long-distance discussion of the depths of Thomas Merton’s writing that I understood the possibilities.
  • I had the same experience when I observed the leadership of women religious in revamping the health care delivery system. Women religious took a visible lead in the advance of alternative medicine, personal health responsibility, home and hospice care and other evolving efforts in the health care arena. Consistently, their focus was not so much on techniques but on human needs and possibilities.
  • More recently, as a staffer for a national open government advocacy coalition my job has been to reach out to other like-minded groups working in agriculture, environment, food, climate, health, to grapple with cataclysmic change. Whether it was sustainable agriculture or hunger, immigration or climate change I found women religious not in the headlines but in the trenches, seeing each issue as it relates to social justice.
  • Today hope for progress in a global context much of that hope is directed to the Millennium Development Goals. Again, women religious stand out as a united network committed to understanding and working to achieve those goals locally, nationally and globally. The quest for justice has inspired women religious of all ages and religious communities to share their knowledge and experience in the slow and steady struggle to make real the vision reflected in the MDGs.
  • Finally, as I have come to know the rank-and-file advocates of change in so many sectors, I have observed just how colleagues were educated by the Sisters and inspired by their willingness to assume personal and institutional responsibility as change-makers in the relentless reach for progress.

These are simply personal memories of the Sisters I have known as teachers, colleagues and visionaries, just a few facets of a beautifully complex history. Still, the lesson I learned many decades ago is that there are many paths to progress. As Martin Luther King reminded us, “human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”

Friends and Neighbors Celebrate Sisters’ “Quaquicentennial”

Unaccustomed as I am to being early for any occasion, this recognition of National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW) begins early with a heartfelt celebration of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi of Little Falls, Minnesota. Today, March 1, 2016, the Sisters join with their neighbors and friends to celebrate their 125th year of serving the community in Little Falls, Morrison County and beyond.

First, a word about NCSW – it’s actually next week, March 8-14, 2016. Now in its third year NCSW is scheduled as a key component of National Women’s History Month. The intent is to honor women religious through a series of events that “instruct, enlighten and bring greater focus to the lives of these incredible women.” Learn more about NCSW at http://www.nationalcatholicsistersweek.org/about.php

For a glimpse at the work of today’s women religious there is no better example than the Franciscans celebrating in Little Falls today. These women have been a major part of my family for as long as I can remember (which is many decades) and many decades before that. My beloved aunt, Sister Mary Stephen Treacy was a Franciscan whom I remember best for her infectious laugh, for the chocolate milk she could always find for special guests, and as a legend in the community. Three of my cousins followed her lead – Sister Mary Leone Furnstahl, a teacher, died in 1998. Today Sister Therese Furnstahl and Sister Anne Furnstahl continue to serve a broadly defined community in myriad ways.

Today thoughts are with the Sisters and the countless people they have served for 125 years. I even learned a new word to describe the year–long celebration – this is the Franciscans’ “quaquicentennial.” The year is highlighted by two significant dates – today, March 1, is Founding Day, marking the 1891 date when sixteen women established the community in Belle Prairie, Minnesota. The other key date is October 4, the Feast of Saint Francis Assisi, patron of the community and namesake of Pope Francis, a fact that brings both pleasure and renewed inspiration to the Sisters.

Today the 129 members of the community serve in countless ministries including home health care, teaching, catechetical work, missionary work in South America and more. The Franciscan Center has also built a reputation for hospitality as it opens the doors to the community and visitors from afar. Neighbors gather at the Center regularly to socialize, exercise, worship, garden, to conduct the business of the community and to learn.   Conference attendees and other visitors find respite – not to mention great meals and a warm welcome — in the gracious setting.

Scholars visit the Franciscan Center on a regular basis to learn about the history of the community and the area preserved in the Franciscan archives and to reflect on the magnificent architecture of the Chapel and other historic buildings on the grounds.

Members of the public are welcome to join the Franciscans as they continue to celebrate their “quaquicentennial” throughout the year. Activities range from an Open House on Saturday July 9, featuring musicians from the St. Francis Music Center, to a tour and tractor or horse-drawn wagon tour, to a September 30 liturgical performance by David Haas, Marty Haugen and Michael Joncas.

The “Little Falls Franciscans” offer a glimpse and just one example of 21st Century women religious meeting the challenge of change with grit and grace!