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

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Right to Assemble (Peacefully)

This is going to be a big week in Virginia politics. The District Attorney has said he intends to prosecute the protestors rather than drop the charges. The Richmond-Times Dispatch had a good update regarding the situation and the online version includes comments from readers. Here is another summary on the issue at hand from a Charlottesville paper (online) and below is a screenshot of my comment posted on that online site. You may notice I said 31 arrested protestors - the official count according to the RTD was 30 and I won't make that mistake when posting again (but I cannot delete that error). ;-)

The people arrested on March 3rd will be arraigned by Judge Cheek this Friday, March 30th at the courthouse on 920 Hull Street. This courthouse is located at the corner of Hull and Commerce (which is what the 9th St. bridge becomes).

Judge Cheek does not allow children in the courtroom so if parents would like to come and be present we can gather in the area around 8:30 and decide who will stay outside with children and who will go into the courtroom. If you have any friends who would like to come along, kids or no kids, we will figure it out. Some of us will be inside to observe and some of us will be outside supporting those arrested and the observers. Just as "it takes a village" to raise a child it also takes a village to keep watch over our rights as citizens. We cannot rely just on the reporters, lawyers, and judges. We should continue to observe first-hand as citizens.

A little bird told me that our Picnic-in protests could actually be helpful evidence to those arrested, primarily because it shows the arbitrary nature in which the "law" is being applied. So, JOIN US this Thursday around 12:30 for yet another fun day at the Capitol. I love that my girls are really starting to feel the Capitol grounds are theirs as citizens - to roll down the hill, eat a picnic with mom, and play with friends. The Capitol grounds has never felt so vibrant to me as it does with children running around.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Today's Picnic-In

Today was a GORGEOUS day for a Picnic-in at the Capitol. Somehow, I just love hearing my girls talk about "going to the Capitol" every Thursday. A month ago this wasn't a word in their vocabulary and now we regularly have conversations about what it is to live in a democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and how dissent is an important component of good decision making.

We had a smaller crowd today but were deeply honored to have Katherine Waddell, the newly elected President of Women's Strike Force, and her close friend, Joyce Scher, join us today. It was great to hear their passion and they opened our eyes a little further today... Did you know the House of Delegates passed a mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasound bill LAST YEAR but they were quiet enough about it and because Democrats controlled the Senate the bill didn't go anywhere? Sheesh. Talk about asleep at the kitchen sink just trying to get dinner made. I had no idea.

Speaking of not-so-little political items that I had missed as I focused on education, career, and family over the past 30 years. Did you know that Virginia is one of 15 states that still has not affirmed the Equal Rights Amendment? Seriously? This is an amendment women have been fighting for since 1923. Think about that. Women are not written into the U.S. Constitution as equals although we have been requesting such wording for 89 years. I think one of the most beautiful turnarounds we could see as a result of the 2012 spring follies would be to see this amendment passed as a direct result of women getting ACTIVE. What say you Mamas? Don't the women who posed in this picture back in 1915 deserve our commitment to their cause, which is really our cause and the cause of our daughters and granddaughters?

Image from Valentine Richmond History Center

Sorry. Off my stump. Back to the Picnic-Ins.

Those of us there for our third week in a row affirmed our commitment to maintaining a presence at the Capitol. We spoke of the Civil Rights protestors who pledged to walk EVERYWHERE for a full year after Rosa Parks' arrest for not giving up her bus seat. If they can walk everywhere for a year, we can pack up the kids and go to the Capitol every Thursday. It is a small effort and a monumental effort all at the same time. But we will make the effort to continue our physical presence because we plan to keep talking and identifying opportunities to make a difference.

We also talked about the importance of oversight and being a witness to political events. To that end, I spoke on the phone today to one of the women arrested on March 3rd and mentioned the idea that some of the mothers might like to come to the scheduled arraignment on March 30th. She was pleased mothers would make an effort to show support and continue to bear witness to the freedom of speech/freedom of assembly issue raised March 3rd. The other mothers at the Capitol today are very much behind this idea and we will begin to coordinate next Friday shortly. If you have any particular ideas about an appropriate way in which we can bear witness make sure to leave a note in the comment section. If we lose / give up our right to free speech and assembly, how much of a democracy will we really have left?

So. In a nutshell.
  • Mothers are amazing and we will continue to observe, bear witness, and talk, talk, talk.
  • This Saturday come get inspired at the Byrd Theatre at 1 PM.
  • Next Thursday another Picnic-In (to accommodate the hot sun and small children we have moved to the big shade trees to the right as you stand on the steps and look down Bank Street)
  • Next Friday we will have an actionable item related to the arraignment of those arrested on March 3rd.

We know you are busy. So are we. Find some time and do what you can. You will be welcomed anytime you can make it and missed when you cannot.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Next Move

I had an excellent conversation with a friend's father-in-law the other day, a retired lawyer who still takes the occasional trip down to the General Assembly. Among some of his comments:

I support you ladies and what you're doing. Are you organized yet? What's your next move?

He was really happy to see/hear that we went down and had a "Picnic-In" at the Capitol to make the point that it is the peoples' steps and that the First Amendment says congress shall make NO LAWS to limit freedom of assembly and freedom of speech. It was a small act, but a good act. He and his wife enjoyed the bit of news coverage we received and apparently flipped from channel to channel to watch it.

Which leaves his really good question on the table: "What's your next move?"

Image from

Well, our next move is a public showing of an inspiring movie, "Pray the Devil Back to Hell." Let us watch the power to be had if women spend personal time with the purpose and intent of changing their reality. Let us watch the triumph that can be had when two "sides" come together for the greater good. How does it look when women's strength and love triumphs over guns? We are lucky to live in the United States with enough rights and freedoms to change the direction of our country's politics, but we have to get involved.

Mothers' Awakening is about mothers waking up to the reality of our situation and that it is not in the best interest of future generations to sit on the sidelines and continue to hope for the best. We have got to get involved now. Climate change. Our industrialized, nutrient lacking food supply. Compassion in politics. Personal freedoms. We have all got to get involved to ensure the future is a kinder, gentler, more responsible future.

After the movie we will hear from local women who have "woken up" and are stepping out of their homes and into action.

We hope friends and neighbors will come out for a day together and to start talking. The kind of talking that has been missing for too long. Women must keep talking and turn the volume up, a notch at a time, until you can no longer drown out the voices that were once missing in the political conversation, mothers, fathers, grandparents, all busy people living their "normal" lives. We can live those normal lives, but we must all keep our eyes on the political machinery that shapes our future!

So come join us this Thursday at the Capitol for another Picnic-In and again Saturday, March 24th at 1 PM at the Byrd Theatre. Come watch the story unfold knowing that the women in "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" were eventually honored with the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. Dare to be amazing.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Right to Assemble

This week, Thursday, we will again host a Picnic-In on the Capitol steps. In today's Richmond Times-Dispatch there is an excellent editorial summarizing "the issue," an illegal arrest of women's rights protestors, that kicked off the organization of Mothers' Awakening. In this editorial a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates outlines the law protecting peaceful assembly in the Commonwealth and the various groups that have, perhaps inadvertently, created a policy of disallowing assembly anywhere on the Capitol grounds except the Bell Tower. Here is an excerpt from the summary of his letter to the editor:

Without question any guidelines adopted should permit citizens to assemble on the steps of the Capitol or anywhere else on the grounds that doesn't interfere with the business of making laws. Anything less violates Virginia's Constitution.

Along those same lines, major kudos to Meghan McSweeney for posting this quote and gorgeous picture on the MA!!! facebook page:

I don't know about you all but I will show up every day that I can to make sure that these beautiful people have equal rights.

Image provided by Meghan McSweeney

Come join us again this Thursday!!! These are the peoples' steps and we will assemble :)

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Imagine if you went to a performance of Handel's "Messiah" and virtually an entire group of vocals were missing. If ANY group of voices is missing in this piece of music the tone, story, and balance is not there. You will not swoon as you listen to voices take you to the top of the highest mountains or to the lowest depths of the deepest ocean. The sopranos, altos, tenors, and basses are all required for the full picture to be painted. The score is designed to show great beauty but the voices must all participate for it to become a reality.

This is how it is for democracy as well. If there is a range of voices missing it is an incomplete picture. We cannot, as a nation, afford for a range of voices to be missing.

Politics is an ongoing conversation and negotiation. If either of the extremes are missing you will not end up negotiating the middle ground. Instead you will negotiate to the right or left of the middle ground. If the voice in the middle is missing and the two extremes are negotiating it is less of a negotiation and more of a ping-pong match depending upon who is in power at the time.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So here is a picture of who represents Virginians at the highest levels right now.

Image from

So, what say you, Virginia, about the picture being drawn? It looks very middle-aged, white male to me. In Rwanda's equivalent of a House of Representatives the majority of representatives are women. Somehow I doubt it is because they offer amazing childcare.

Do they love their country more? Their children? Deep in my heart, I believe all mothers around the world share the same hopes and fears, dreams and desires. The context for some hopes and fears may be more violent or more oppressive, but what is written on our hearts is the same. We all want this world to be a better, safer, kinder, gentler place for our children and the generations to follow. We just want to be able to feed our kids good food, watch them grow strong, and enjoy our day-to-day lives. We want our children, boys and girls both, to have the opportunities to live the lives they choose for themselves.

Women need to think about the world we want and then compare that to the world we have. Are our hopes and dreams being reflected in recently passed and pending legislation? Are you represented well enough that you believe the status quo works for you and your family? At a local, state, and national level?

If not, you cannot wait for someone else to change your reality. Please consider taking a path less often taken - the path of active involvement in shaping our state and national politics. For some that path will mean raising awareness of issues they are concerned about (chemicals in foods, for example). This can be as simple as starting conversations, hosting a book club, hosting a movie night, or posting on a topic on Facebook.

For others it will mean lobbying. Finding the organization or becoming the organization that takes the educated perspective to the next level, one of advocacy. Or lobbying on behalf of your friends and family without an organization behind you because advocating for the best interest of citizens does not take a tax form!

For a few dedicated women it will mean serving friends, family, and neighbors by holding public office. Most women agree more women are needed in the direct negotiations and what better place to sit than holding a vote in the legislature?

But to force ourselves out of our comfort zones, we must first acknowledge the missing voices at the table. If the first step is admitting there is a problem, I for one am ready to admit that settling for men to represent me and my viewpoint is no longer an acceptable status quo.

So ask yourself this question... is your voice joined with the other voices to create a thing of beauty, or are you home with laryngitis?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Had A Dream

A beautiful Mothers' Awakening "I Had A Dream" speech was received in my inbox and it is too beautiful to be kept hidden away.

I had a dream last night that I was sitting outside in the bright noonday sun with a large group of women of all races, all ages, all walks if life, and we were telling the story of Leymah Gbowee and the revolution in Liberia, and declaring all of the things we would do for our children, all the ends we would go to, all the sacrifices and hope we would carry, all the work we would roll our sleeves up to do...and the list of the things we would give up, and things we would build in order to give a kind world to our children was endless. We were crying and raising our fists to the sky and proclaiming our power, our resolve, our unity. The sun was so bright, everyone's lighted faces and fists were so beautiful.

CLEARLY, even in my sleep, I am overcome by the beauty, the potential, the mounting momentum of this revolution. Something within me knows that this is a critical time for critical issues and that we MUST act, and we ARE. I am humbled and buoyed by you amazing women, by everyone who is showing up with light in their hands and hearts in this dark time. We are already changing things--awakening ourselves and the children, partners & friends we love--and change like this--change powered by love--can bring us and the coming generations to a more enlightened, a kinder, a more just place. I believe that. I really, really believe.

An unjust world is a world no mother wants for her child. Please consider in your heart whether you feel called to do something about whatever topic it is that is most meaningful to you and your family.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why Now - Sara H

Image courtesy of Patience Salgado

I believe when things happen that are seemingly beyond our control, we have a choice to make. We can be victims, we can be survivors, or we can be fighters.

When my virginity was taken from me at the age of 16, against my choice, I chose to be a fighter.

When I was attacked and brutally beaten on the street in Chicago at the age of 19, because I was a vulnerable woman walking alone, I chose to be a fighter.

When I was wrongfully arrested at the age of 28 for protesting in New York City and detained for over 50 hours without arraignment, 16 of those hours penned in with chain link fencing in an old, abandoned bus depot, I still chose to be a fighter.

And right now, at age 36 after welcoming my daughter into this world, as they whittle away at my reproductive rights and spew misogynistic vitriol, I choose to be a fighter.

Becoming a mother changed everything for me. Becoming the mother of a daughter pushed me even further into new realms. It has made things that much more immediate for me, that much more threatening. It has jump started my activist heart into hyperdrive, and the little girl that marched with her mother for reproductive rights 26 years ago is passing along the gift of action.

Because my daughter should not have to grow up in a world where she is disrespected and violated. Not physically, not sexually, not emotionally, not intellectually, and most certainly not legislatively.

The gift that was given to me will be passed on to the next generation. I remember one night, many years ago, I was having dinner with my own wise mother and her beautiful, strong woman friend who used to smuggle guns under her skirts for the Algerian revolution. This friend happened to be married to an accidental misogynist, the kind who would never want to be, but lives as such without even being aware of it. After dinner, my father and the accidental misogynist went upstairs to play pool and we women stayed downstairs and began the important work that happens when women get together and talk around tables, in kitchens, and on playgrounds. We talked of everything and nothing all at once. We spoke for distant nations and next door neighbors. We talked and talked and that magical energy that happens when women get together and share ideas lifted us higher and higher and we felt we were doing important work just by releasing these ideas and this energy into the world! We were empowered by our togetherness, by our concern for the world, and our knowledge of the responsibility of our place in it, as women, as bearers of such strength and wisdom!

And then the men came downstairs.

And the accidental misogynist, true to form, said "So what have you little ladies been up to?"

And without skipping a beat, my wonderful wise revolutionary friend replied "Holding up the world, how about you?"

As women and as mothers, we have unparalleled strength. We are tapped into the generational stream, and from it we are infused with the strength of all the women that have come before us and all those who will follow. It is our responsibility to take that strength and build the world we want to live in.

It is our responsibility to hold up the world.

PDBH - March 24

We have been quietly (and quickly) planning our first educational opportunity for this beautiful river city. Considering our tender age of almost two weeks old we determined that our first educational opportunity should give a nod to our muse. No, not Rush Limbaugh, silly... Our beautiful, strong, motherly muse: Leymah Gbowee!

On 1 PM on March 24th at the Byrd Theatre in Carytown, we will show "Pray the Devil Back to Hell." This movie documents the incredible story of Liberian women, both Christian and Muslim, who came together to stop a devastating civil war. The women involved were ordinary citizens. Mothers with busy and sometimes terrifying lives with nothing to lose except the future for their children.

This is a wonderful opportunity to reach out to mothers like ourselves; ordinary moms, busy with ordinary, everyday life, but mother who could be an incredible agent of change if they embrace their powers and engage in changing our world so it is a better place for future generations.

This state, country, and world cannot afford for the most empathetic to be apathetic. It is time to bring our loving compassion, strength, and resolve to the table. When we stand together we stand strong. Come stand with us!

Please grab a few friends and join us at the Byrd. Tickets can be purchased online at

Whether you are able to make it yourself, consider downloading a flyer to e-mail and/or print and post around town. To do so, please click here. Also available is a page with five bookmarks if that is easier to print/cut/circulate for you.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Social Media

Social media is an amazing gift from a handful of Harvard men to women around the world. Who is it again that likes to talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk? It is us women. Who do we love and trust the most? Our women friends.

Cue the music and here comes that really special someone - social media!

So now women have an easy way to spread our own sound bytes. The talking head is becoming obscure in my life and has completely lost out to the things my friends have to say. My friends forward fabulous (primary) research articles, post updates about their lives, and post hilarious outtakes from the couple of shows I would bother watching if I had time.

To be honest, the talking head lost out a long time ago. I realized that watching the news made me feel anxious, sad, and mad. It added a lot of stress because I could not do anything about the things making me anxious, sad, and mad. Have you read the study that proved the female way to handle stress is not "fight or flight" but instead, "tend and befriend."

With social media I CAN do something when I see a news item that makes me anxious, sad, or mad. Just the act of sharing it helps me to process it and let it go without forgetting what the message was that I needed from the news item. And with all the political stressors in our lives these days, no wonder we are tending and befriending like crazy.

Social media allows us to light that match, set it to the tinder, and watch the blaze grow. When we agree with things or think they are amazing - off it goes. So now we have the ability to share the information, influence other mothers, and organize activities we think are necessary in our communities. We are powerful with our computers and the mainstream media should be soon back in its role of reporting the news rather than making the news.

So for now, the plan is to throw a big party and see who shows up. We are throwing as big a party as you want to make it. Hope to see you this Thursday & Friday on the Capitol steps. Picnic-in with a purpose! We hope eventually some of our leaders and their families might want to join us. After all, it is everybody's Capitol.

Mothers' Awakening
Facebook: Mothers' Awakening
Blog: Mothers' Awakening
Twitter: #RVA_MA

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Issues

It is not just the March third incident that trampled my First Amendment right to peaceful assembly. It is not just the seemingly patriarchal movement back in time for Women's Rights. It is a whole lot of stuff. What is it that concerns me?

  • Education
  • Global warming
  • Eminent domain
  • Over-medication of children
  • Food freedoms
  • Chem trails in the sky
  • Excessive executive compensation
  • Aging infrastructure of our cities
  • Free speech
  • Chemicals leeching into foods
  • Money in politics
  • Inequality in our justice system
  • Government regulations, both too many and not enough
  • Honeybee collapse
  • Informed consent in medicine
  • Fracking
  • Lack of diversity in our country's leadership (at all levels, across all types of organizations)
  • Foreign policy that looks like we think we're better than anyone else
  • GMOs and fast track approvals
  • Rise of chronic childhood disease
  • Unfunded public pensions
  • Subsidies for BigAg
  • Obesity epidemic
  • Tax rates for the wealthy
  • Government reliance on industry funded research
  • The "War" on terror
  • Electro-magnetic fields (EMFs) and their impact on health
  • Freedom to choose birth options
  • Surveillance of U.S. citizens
  • "Food" served in the public school system
  • The health of our soils
  • Patent laws
  • That doctors are not required to take a nutrition course
  • Unjust wars
  • Immigration
  • Disenfranchisement of minorities
  • Clean energy and related self-sufficiency
  • Questionable Nonprofit tax status (SuperPACs AND the NFL)
  • Implicit and explicit degradation of women in the media
  • Chemicals in our foods
  • Due process
  • The size of our growing deficit
  • and, oh yeah, WOMEN'S RIGHTS!

The reason I am ready to spring into action with fellow mothers is because the list of issues I follow with increased concern over the past few years just keeps growing. If the laws and policies were judicious and driven by the citizens I do not believe this list would continue to grow. If the mothers were actively overseeing decisions you *KNOW* this list would shrink. Need an example? There would definitely NOT be pink slime purchased for our public school children. If it's not good enough for fast food, why on earth would anyone think it should be served to our innocents?

I feel as though I am not represented. You could call me disenfranchised and as an educated, upper-middle class, white woman that probably comes as a surprise to politicians. When I stop and think about it, I realize that I have never felt represented but it did not previously bother me because life was pretty good and I was young. But now I am a mother. I am watching this beautiful democracy earned with the blood, sweat and tears of previous generations as it seems to degrade before my very eyes. I blame Republicans AND Democrats.

As a friend said to me the other day (and I'm paraphrasing), "Political debate used to be fun in this country and now it's getting downright scary!" By the way, she and I have opposite views on a hot topic but she still supports my right to express an opinion. She is one fabulous mother.

So I plan to join with other mothers to return social consciousness and civil discourse to the mainstream. We have been pretty busy with our lives but we are going to MAKE TIME to get involved. If it weren't for social media we would still be isolated in our kitchens, offices, and bedrooms watching some talking head in some other city tell us the news. But now we can tweet, retweet, pin it, post it on Facebook, make a YouTube video, and otherwise begin yelling from the rooftops. I will keep my children by my side throughout this awakening and I have the full support of my husband.

I am not here to threaten or scare anybody, but I AM here to WAKE THEM UP. I do not want to promote the emotion of anger, hatred, or blame. I believe the sorry state we are in is not because of "bad" people or malfeasance, although "turning a blind eye" comes to mind more often than not. Instead, I believe the United States has deeply rooted systemic issues that need to be resolved. We cannot be complacent any longer or things are going to be in very, very bad shape for our children. And don't get me started on what it could look like seven generations from now if we remain on the path we are on.
Image from Zombie Survival Course

"Zombies" is not a pretty scenario for our future.

What issues are YOU concerned about??? Are you concerned enough to give up some time, talent, and energy to work with others? Would love to see you on the Capitol steps!

Creating Space

We need to create a space. A space for loving, compassionate, positive dialogue about events affecting the future of our families for generations to come.

Photo courtesy of Rick Kidd Photography

A space that bans hate speech and does not define itself by differences but instead by the values we share.

Mothers are used to creating this space. Every day we coach children to change how they say something so they can be heard. We negotiate peace on the playground. We make sure solutions are fair to everyone involved, realizing that nobody will get everything they want.

We MUST create this space for our political, both state and national, dialogue. Laws and policies need to represent OUR concerns and be weighed against the future of OUR children.

Mothers have built in BS detectors. And right now they are going off on a wide range of topics. We are done being "too busy" with our responsibilities and we will do that which we are uniquely created to do. Multi-task.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Why Now - Kati

When I was a young girl in the 70's and 80's, you taught me that my mind is just as strong as my brothers' minds. Through athletic opportunities, provided by Title IX, I developed a strong sense of my value as a member of a team. Throughout my childhood and early adult life when somebody broke me down others stepped in and built me back stronger.

Today all of the gifts I have received combine with a drive to embrace the inherent wisdom I am developing as a mother (link to the why mothers post) and I am wide-eyed, looking around, and getting very, very upset.

I have to put a special thank you to two public figures whose words, both positive and negative, created the perfect tinder for this fire.

First, it was Leymah Gbowee (pronounced: lee*ma bow*ee) who planted the seed and if you do not already know her story you should seek the details. In a nutshell, she worked with women in Liberia to speak loudly through peaceful protest. They used every bit of influence they had (including withholding sex from their men) to end a war and turn around their country. In her own words, "all we did was create the space. When you create commitment, you unlock, intelligence, passion, commitment, focus, great leaders.” The space she created sparked a revolution, ended a war, and empowered women.

Image from Facebook page for Leymah Gbowee

I happened to catch a TV interview of her a few weeks back and was riveted by something she said. When talking about how the women of Liberia made a national change she said that, to paraphrase, given the state of affairs in America, I am surprised your women and children are not doing the same. It was funny, but not funny. The host and the audience chuckled, but it was a head shaking, "no kidding," sort of chuckle. And it imprinted onto my heart.

The second person I need to thank is Rush Limbaugh. When he labeled Sandra Fluke a "slut" and called for her and her friends to post sex videos online I had to pick my jaw back up off the floor. How is it that public discourse, supposedly political in nature, had gotten so far off the topic as to become a personal attack. My heart has gone out to Ms. Fluke and her parents (I cannot IMAGINE listening to that about my daughter).

I am left with a sense of growing disdain for "leaders" in any political party who can listen to such misogynistic vitriol, followed by an exceptionally transparent and pathetic apology, and not denounce it entirely. In particular, I have yet to see a Republican leader in any major position of power (or running for any major position of power) publicly denounce it in a way that shows me they understand that an attack on one woman in this manner undermines equality for all women.

So those are the two people that created the tinder and the match was struck when I went to the first protest in my life last Saturday.

Yes, the protestors were warned of a pending arrest. Loud, verbal assertions of the First Amendment were made so I assume many of them were remaining on the steps believing they had a Constitutional right to freedom of assembly. Especially because they were not threatening any actions, just gathered together with some chanting and raucous hollering.

Yes, the police officers gave them a warning and began the arrests. The SWAT team and "tactical unit" was definitely over the top.

Perhaps if I had been to other protests I would have understood that this was just the way it was "supposed to" play out. But as a newbie who enjoyed government courses in high school and college I was appalled. I don't care *WHAT* state law you have on the books about the Capitol grounds, it is trumped by the First Amendment. I support a police presence but when dissenters are peacefully dissenting it is supposed to be tolerated. I personally would have even been totally fine with a large SWAT team out of sight as a contingency plan, but the people of our country are not to be intimidated when they are doing nothing wrong. We are the land of the free and the brave, remember?

So five days later around 80 mothers and children reclaimed those same steps with a picnic-in. We taught our children, mostly preschoolers, about civil disobedience. And we will keep going back there. Partly to teach the children civics lessons and to stand up for what they believe in. Partly to raise awareness of the issues crippling our country. Partly to point out the ridiculousness of an unconstitutional law. But MOSTLY to show everyone watching that we can begin a dialogue another way. We can invite the wives, children, and grandchildren of the police officers to join us. We can invite the wives, children, and grandchildren of our Senators and Representatives to join us. We can invite our neighbors and friends to join us.

The time has come for the mothers to demand more of our leaders. The rhetoric has a tone that we would scold our children for using and words that are so disgusting I cannot believe they are allowed. Tough love when you need it, a hug when you need it, and teachable moments as they arise. More than a national swear jar, we need a national hate jar. When you promote hate on the airwaves, you should have to pay a fine. We need a dialogue based on love and respect. Just what we teach our children on the playground. The current state of affairs is not acceptable and someone needs a timeout.


So what are we up to?

We are having a motherly version of a sit-in, with a focus on educating the kids and talking amongst ourselves. We meet at the Capitol steps on Thursdays. Or any other day you feel like going with a neighbor.

This is not *just* about Women's Rights although it definitely got kicked off for that reason. Well, maybe quite a bit about the First Amendment too. Personal freedoms, for sure!

We welcome any Mother who is concerned about something in her world impacted by politics. This really means every Mother! Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party, Independent, EVERYONE. Whether your children are as yet unborn, potty training, school aged and asking lots of questions, or full grown and out of the house, you are welcome.

We will cultivate shared responsibility and talk about the things that concern us the most. If there is a group in this world to be trusted with making well-informed decisions, it is Mothers. So bring your kids or just yourself and come down for an afternoon picnic at our gorgeous Capitol!

Here is the official wording from an invitation:

Join Mothers' Awakening to picnic with a PURPOSE! Thursday the 8th was such a BLAST we would like to invite you to doing it again with us. Come join mothers and children to discuss civics lessons, speak with Senators/Representatives/staffers, roam the grounds, or anything else you want to do to get EDUCATED about Virginia politics. We will invite public figures to talk to the kids and encourage a wide range of open, honest, and respectful dialogue between Virginians.

So join us at 1000 Bank Street in Richmond, Virginia. Some will get there a little before noon and many others will come around 12:30 - 1:00. Preschool pickup and all that. We will have a wonderful time and plan to stay until around 3 PM or so. Come and go as you need to.

Why Mothers

I have a deeply held belief that a special intuition develops as women become mothers. There are glimpses of it prior to the woman becoming a mother and I believe it is what people are referring to when they say someone will, "make a great mother."

Something shifts the moment a woman intends to start a family. Even before the hormonal shift of a pregnancy.

She begins to watch what she eats and starts to get educated on chemicals in the environment around her. She prepares the best environment she can afford (physically and financially) for a person she has not yet met. As the pregnancy unfolds she gives up things she loved, all in the name of good health. She learns the true meaning of the phrase "no greater love" even before she first sees the life emerging from within her body. She began a life of service to someone beside herself even before she meeting her miracle.

Mothers have an inner drive to research and seek out the best for the next generation. A mother worries not just about the child in her lap but about the little children that will eventually come forth into the world from that child. We look forward to and fret about the health of grandchildren while our children are still drawing with crayons.

When you carry the weight of the decisions for future generations upon your shoulders, you see the world around you differently. There is an immeasurable truth and beauty to the Cherokee tribe's belief of being keepers for the next seven generations. Women see this truth so very, very clearly. Every mother wants the best for her child, that child's children, that child's children, and so forth. We intuitively understand that what is good for one generation is good for the next and that in order to do so we must take care of our mother Earth. After all, it only makes sense we would take care of the planet, the source of our food, just as we took care of ourselves when we were the source of food for our nursing babies.

Borrowing again from the Native Americans, the Iroquois tribe's wise women chose the chief and removed him if they were unhappy. Women have the majority of the vote in America and if we empowered our wisest elders we could do the same, but given the notion of gender equality let's just find the right person for the job!

So mothers, embrace your feminine divine and all the wisdom and intuition that comes with being a mother. "A worried mother does better research than the FBI." We know our stuff. When you know it, own it. Start talking. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk! Make sure those around you are enlightened on the topic and listen to their truth about the topics they have researched. Seek and find objective evidence. Do not listen to the headlines, review the primary literature. Read the footnotes about who funded the study and keep a skeptical eye at all times. Also, never forget to find out what the activists say. I have generally found that the more I dig into a topic, the more I think activists have a very solid argument that is being dismissed and brushed aside as "fringe" rather than being thoughtfully considered. It is not easy to cultivate consensus. It is a tremendous skill. It is a skill we mothers must demand from the leaders around us or we should do like the Iroquois and replace them.

The Organizer

It has been said that you can be judged by the company you keep so it seems only fair for you to know a little bit about me. I am the mom that sits next to you at the school picnic, in church, at the park, and at the restaurant.

Some of my children are in public school, some are home schooled, some go to private school, some are now adults, and many are too young for school. I have a college degree from a university and it is in business. And literature. And math. And science. And art. I have a high school degree and did not need the extra years in school to find my passion.

I am a CPA and consult with/for the finance departments of Fortune 500 companies. I am a social worker. I own a small business. I stay home with my children and am blessed with that opportunity. I am working with others in the community to create a breakthrough model locally to support families. I freelance and work as a doula, working to understand the desires of a woman and advocating for her in her miraculous moment. I train doulas. I am a photographer and kindness worker. I work in public relations. I have served on the Board of Directors for more than one Nonprofit. I am an artist. I train dogs and advocate for causes I believe in.

I live in my dream home. I rent. I am on a healing diet with my children. I am vegan. I can barely find the time to cook and my kids often eat McDonalds. I grow as much of our food as I can and have chickens in my back yard. Did I mention I do not enjoy cooking? But I do.

I just went to my first protest and observed what seemed to me to be complete disregard for the First Amendment. I believe the officers present followed orders but I wonder how the right decisions can be made when they are seem to be made remotely. I once pied a man in the face, paid the price, and I might do it again sometime. I have been wrongfully arrested for trying to peacefully protest my opinion for women's rights and the charges were dropped because of entrapment by law enforcement. I have yet to ever attend a protest.

Above all, the most important role I play any day of the week is that I am a MOTHER. You do not want to mess with me. I ensure all the kids, not just my own, on the playground play nicely and right now I am not happy with what I see with the culture of American politics.

I cannot tell if we are operating from a place of intense fear or greed, but neither of those is a good emotional foundation for solid policy. The two party system is set up as though there is a black and white divide on range of social issues rather than the many shades of grey I see every day. I wish there were more choices on the menu.

I do not agree with all my friends on their viewpoints. But I deeply respect them and we can come together, discuss topics with intensity and passion, and still love each other. We can disagree without attacking each other. The women I know deeply influence my thinking and when I need to figure something out I turn to them first.

I have a growing sense of concern over every social issue in this country and I'm not feeling so hot about fiscal issues either. It is time we all WAKE UP and start talking. Mothers talk. We talk really well. Ask our husbands and lovers - we just talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. But when we talk we come to a better understanding of any issue and each other. I find myself in a place of shifting consciousness and I no longer waste my time on talking heads on TV and instead I follow other influential mothers and what they have to say using social media.

When I need to get the word out, it will be online. I will plan picnic-ins, stage educational screenings, and come up with other fun ideas to awaken the social consciousness of every other mother around me. I have been talking on the playgrounds in hushed tones about the state of our country and wondering what the next five to ten years could possibly look like if we stay on this trajectory. It is time to stop whispering and start shouting. Please join me.