Monday, May 14, 2012

May 17 - Picnic with a Purpose

Clean air!  Clean energy!

Every mother I know is in love with these two ideals!!!  Please join us this Thursday as we celebrate with some special guests (+ media).

Join the Sierra Club, Environment America, League of Conservation Voters, Virginia Interfaith Power and Light, and the Communication Workers of America Union (Blue-Green Alliance) as we announce the gathering of 1 MILLION comments to the EPA supporting strong standards for industrial carbon pollution from coal fired power plants!

The EPA released these proposed protections in March and we are now in the midst of a 60-day public comment period. These standards will limit the amount of carbon dioxide that can be released into the atmosphere from new coal fired power plants. Carbon dioxide is proven to increase smog levels which cause health problems such as asthma attacks, especially in kids.

Because of the serious impacts that air pollution has on growing children, and being that Mother's Day was this past weekend, we want to show strong support from mothers and children for the EPA's efforts to protect air quality and public health!

Please join us for a brief press event and photo opportunity near the Capitol Steps next Thursday!

Where: Bottom of the Capitol Steps near 9th and Bank Street
When: Thursday, May 17th at 1 PM
Who: Jami Town of Mothers' Awakening will be speaking on behalf of mothers, doctor(s) will be speaking about public health impacts of dirty air and carbon emissions, environmental leaders will be speaking about the environmental impacts of carbon emissions
What: A press event announcing the first one million comments collected by the Clean Air Defense Campaign coalition; Mothers and children gather with balloons, flowers to celebrate a great Mother's Day present-- clean air and healthy kids!

Many thanks to the lovely Anneli Berube for coordinating this event.  We are really going to miss her when she moves to Colorado this summer.  If you need to get in touch with her about this event or anything else EPA/Sierra Club related, please do! 

Anneli Berube, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter;, (802)922-2337

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Tiniest Who

It has been quite awhile since I've read Dr. Seuss', "Horton hears a Who," but if I remember part of the story correctly, EVERY Who down in Whoville had to join in a chorus of voices to prove they existed.

As I remember it, it required the voice of even the tiniest Who.  That works great for this post.  Wikipedia says something about a shirker named JoJo, which isn't helping this blog post at all, so we'll just have to go with my revisionist history.  ;-)

This weekend Richmond is providing a wonderful opportunity for the youngest citizens to find their own voice on a topic that is very meaningful to them.  From the Facebook event page:

The Radical Idea of Sharing!
This is one of the most important lessons that we learn as children. This is an invitation for children of our communities to come help us (adults) relearn this very important lesson by marching in solidarity with one another for all the many reasons that it is important to SHARE!

We will begin at 1pm by meeting new families, making art, signs, and writing. We want to hear diverse children's perspectives around the questions of sharing, and what is important to them in general such as...

what does sharing mean to you?
why is sharing important?
what is your favorite part of sharing?
we also want to encourage kids to put any message down that is important to them!
etc etc etc

We will continue this creative time until around 2. We will then gather and march for sharing with the children leading the way. We encourage everyone to bring music, instruments, pots, pans, and party noise makers.

Anything to get this important message heard loud and clear and to keep it fun! We will hopefully wrap up around 3pm.

This march looks to include kids and their parents with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

This weekend kicks off the May Day celebrations around town for International Workers' Day and also for Immigrants' Rights.  If these causes are important to you, find an event or two to attend!  And if helping your child find his/her voice is important then bring them to the children's parade and talk about sharing.  What a fabulous and fun idea!

Here is the Facebook event link:

Hope to see your kiddo there with a sign about whatever is important to them!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

PDBH - Remix!

The movie screening in March was so powerful and moving we have decided to show it again. Remix!

In a few weeks at 1 PM on Saturday, May 5th Mothers' Awakening will show "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" at the Richmond Public Library (Main Branch). This screening will be free and open to all.

Note: This movie is set during a time of war and the tenuous peace that unfolds immediately after the war. Please use discretion when determining what is suitable for anyone under the age of 18.

Please pass this information around and consider bringing a friend. This powerful movie chronicles what peaceful, brave women accomplished in Liberia when they decided, "enough is enough" and demanded an end to the war.

Image from

The world cannot afford for the most empathetic to be apathetic. Come join us on Cinco de Mayo and see firsthand the results of what is possible when women come together!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Respect my Au-thor-i-tay

First to disclose... I have never spent much time in a courthouse. Ever. I am more of a "cubicle / office / spreadsheet" kind of girl.

So imagine my amazement last Friday when I had the opportunity to observe a power structure / power trip worthy of a prison guard in a B rated movie. Simply outstanding if you like people watching (I do). Since the arraignment seemed to mostly be about paperwork and setting future court dates, I was settling in for a lot of dull administration but was fortunate to get a front row seat of our penal system in action.

Again and again, I couldn't help but think... the current attitude of a "domination nation" is just so WRONG. All people deserve respect, even if they look like they are strung out, have had problems with abusive spouses, or sat on the Capitol steps when a police officer told them not to. If you are human, you are worthy of respect. Period. But apparently somebody missed that Sunday School class...

Image from

When the citizens arrested on March 3rd congregated in the hall outside the courtroom prior to the arraignment there was a noise level akin to a cocktail hour - probably about what you would expect when 30-40 people are gathered and talking in a corridor of hard surfaces and nothing to dampen the sound. The buzz in the air apparently bothered the bailiff so he told everyone to sit down and be quiet.

I would estimate 70-80% of the people complied with his order (it definitely was not a request), including me. I overheard someone say something along the lines of, "There is no rule that we have to sit down and be quiet out here," and perhaps that was just enough to push him over the edge. When some people remained standing he walked next to them and did his best barrel chested domination stance about a foot away from them. I would have stared at the situation but I'm told that is impolite and I guess I'm still trying to maintain some level of politeness. Anyway, the people standing/talking did not sit down meekly (or stop talking) and this seemed to enrage him further.

After trying to browbeat them for about 30 seconds to a minute, he decided he was not being cooperated with enough. The noise level had dropped significantly but not everyone was sitting down. At that point he ordered everyone into the courtroom. I believe his words were, "You need to move into the courtroom and sit down and be quiet." I started thinking he perhaps had a hangover.

So everyone complied and he then took his domination show to the front of the room where he worked the crowd with his best evil eye and a few eyebrow wrinkles to prove he had years of experience with that particular imposing expression. My father informed me that he technically has arresting rights in the courtroom so it was an interesting, "If I cannot make you do what I want outside the courtroom then move to my jurisdiction," ploy.

All in all, it would have made for an interesting field trip for a sociology or women's studies course. The domination display continued and once everyone was in the courtroom the man wanted absolute silence. He said repeatedly, "Silence. Be quiet. No talking." Of course, we had wanted to stay in the hall for awhile rather than sit in the courtroom but whatever. His eyes darted around the room angrily the entire time and he even removed a woman (and her sister) because she was blowing her nose.

I wish there was a way to kindly remind everyone that every other human being is worthy of respect. Frequently it feels as though this perspective is quite lacking. It is like we live in some weird "domination nation" culture - that a request first before an order would be a weakness rather than a strength.

In my experience, when someone "in power" starts off with the stance that their authority is not to be questioned I feel the need to push back. I think it is just an inherent truth that some people, like me, like to be free to agree to comply rather than forced to comply. I am a rule follower but I am also a free thinker. I would contend that unreasonable demands (like sit down and be quiet when there is no stated/known reason to impose this on a group of people) *should* be met with push back. We are not "sheeple" to use a popular term these days.

Perhaps this bailiff was just having a bad day. I look forward to observing more in this courtroom in the future. However, I continue to wonder what it would take to shift a culture from a "domination nation" position to a respectful (but very firm - he does need to keep order, after all) culture. I think it is important that law abiding, day-to-day, ordinary citizens who are not "activists" per se, are willing to be observers of our democracy in action. If we are not willing to bear witness, our process quickly devolves into a power struggle between those in power and those requesting something of the powers that be. It is the third party objective that, in my opinion, will make sure things remain fair and just. Jury duty is not your only civic duty. Please consider being that person. Join us!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Just Love a Protestor in a Seersucker Jacket

I would have taken a picture of the preppiest gentleman arrested on March 3rd at the courthouse yesterday, but cameras and cell phones were not allowed. So I'll have to go with this photo from the Brooks Brothers website (which is not nearly as lovely as the shade of coral he was wearing).

The men and women who were arrested had their day in court yesterday - well, actually their first of a number of days. Today was an administrative date to meet with the judge and set the pending court dates for the defense attorneys to request dismissal of the case, the prosecution to respond, a motions date, and finally a trial date. I think I have that right. LOL!

I believe the official charge was trespassing at the Capitol. There were about 4-5 lawyers representing the 30 people arrested and lots of personalities giving lots of hints today as to how it may unfold. It is simultaneously exciting and unnerving, particularly if your only concern is that the Capitol steps be returned to the people of Virginia for (peaceful) assembly and freedom of speech.

The MOST IMPORTANT THING that came out of the courtroom today is the news that the men and women arrested are now able to again go on the grounds at the Capitol. The prosecution requested the judge remove this restriction set by the magistrate (there was confusion as to why this restriction was ever placed on them) and Judge Cheek removed the restriction, as long as each person agreed to uphold the laws of Virginia and every other state. I was a little confused as to why our national laws weren't thrown into the mix, but I figure that's probably just my CPA brain wanting all the details neatly tied up with a bow on top.

Watching a courtroom in action could definitely be a good sporting event if you like watching people. The body language, the ordering around, the stumping for air time. Fascinating. I have never spent time in a courtroom and have never really thought much about how much our judiciary branch and penal system is so deeply filled with dominating, male energy. Perhaps this is part of the reason we say "penal system" ;-) Sorry - I couldn't resist a good penal joke.

I'll write a little more about the power trip on display later, but for tonight just be thrilled along with me that all the citizens are once again allowed to walk on the capitol grounds!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Picnic-In - March 29th

I think yesterday was perhaps my favorite Picnic-In thus far. Just to make a point, the day before the arraignment of those arrested on March 3rd, we put a call out for our friends to join us for a photo opportunity. We gathered to take a picture on the Capitol steps hunkered down, arm in arm, just as the peaceful protestors had sat behind the line of SWAT officers immediately preceding their arrests.

The mood was jovial but the kids were hot and asked to move to the big shade trees, so we quickly snapped this pic before moving to the shade:

Image courtesy of Christophile Konstas

Just to point out a few things I love about this pic. First, a DAD joined us - men are definitely welcome to join us and I hope he found us charming and hospitable :)

Second, two nursing kiddos in the front row. Love it!

Finally, thirty-four citizens, some voting and some non-voting, sitting on the steps peacefully and NOT being arrested. Right before the photo was taken, in jest I hollered, "If anyone tries to pick you up just go limp." So if we're all laughing it may either be from that or from my next immediate thought, "WAIT! What are we teaching our children?" These kiddos may possibly end up advocating against us for their own rights as teenagers, but I welcome an active citizenry in our household!

So if hanging out with friends, talking about our beautiful state, and discussing the politics of the day sounds like fun to you, please join us next Thursday, April 5th. The majority of the moms are picking up preschoolers so the crowd doesn't really arrive until about 1 PM. But it is a load of fun. Here is the Facebook event / invite if that is something helpful to you.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Where Would You Have Stood?

Where would you have stood for this historical picture?

Image from Valentine Richmond History Center

Front and center? A little to the side? With your closest girlfriend in the back holding a banner? Does the average Virginian even know/remember/think about what these women went through on our behalf?

This Thursday it is our turn. Where do you want to stand? We have another beautiful Thursday with gorgeous spring weather and we will eat our lunches on the steps this Thursday since the weather is gorgeous and we don't need the shade trees. We are hoping to get a lovely pic of all the Mamas and kiddos so please come dressed with a gorgeous smile.


- Kati