I spent an amazing week in Pittsburgh hanging out and working with an amazing group of inspiring women and mothers.
The basic themes were focused on health, women and the environment. I was in awe of the gurus in the room from farm worker organizers, to immigrant service providers, to breast cancer fighters to chemists and doctors. It was an amazing group.
I really enjoyed kicking back and listening to stories of deep south organizing from the 50's, 60's Beverly Wright tells some of the most powerful stories about civil rights and justice struggles. We were there the day that the court rolled back abortion rights. Beverly started telling stories about growing up in Louisiana before abortion was legal. she talked about watching a ledge near the high school where girls would jump off the high ledge trying to "dislodge things" and end the potential pregnancy. Girls then getting pregnant with broken legs and ankles. She talked about being at the marches in the 60's and looking at all the posters of dead sisters, mothers and daughters that died during unsafe procedures and births. She said our generation just doesn't know, just doesn't remember. My sense was that Beverly too thought that abortion was something that should be avoided but she spoke all to well with a wisdom that knows the woman should be in charge of her own body.
The group spoke of organizing against sexism, discrimination, ignorance, greed and apathy. They were 55+ years old and older. They were still driven to fight for justice. They were not old or tired. They laughed a lot. They were fired up and determined as ever. They were pushing the next generation of women to do even more work.
It was one of those cool moments that makes happy I am in the career I am in. I was fired up. I could see the people that spent a life fighting for others to have it better. I also had the opportunity to meet the next generation of professional women, professional moms, hard working activists and leaders. as an outsider (there were like 4 guys at the event) It was great to see the new crop of leaders and change makers stepping into the line. It was fantastic.
Events culminated with a two hour meeting connecting with Cooper Monroe. Cooper is a mom of four and an amazing new leader (most inspirational blog 2005) who is connecting women and moms in new ways to create the world we all want. She networked those in need with those who wanted to help. She leveraged her network of leaders in new ways to solve problems. We started kicking around network-centric advocacy and the next generation of ideas after www.mediavolunteer.org and got totally jazzed.
Cooper also blogged the event... been there: Plastic cups, sick fish, Teresa Heinz, I Love Mountains and other things.
Almost 150 years ago, the mothers, as Heinz said, connected the dots and noticed the air in the "Smoky City" was making the children sick. Since they were women, with no rights, and no vote, they had men represent them in public debates. Because of the Ladies' persistence, they were responsible for the nation's first smoke abatement measures.
Women and moms rock. I know, I am married to the one who stands with the best of them. I know, I have sister. I know, I have a daughter (8 months). I know, I was there in Pittsburgh.