Advocacy, et al, Politics

Question Authority

The hubs and I went for a wog (somewhere between walking and jogging) this morning and I am on my second cup of coffee. I normally only have one, so bare with me… my wheels are spinning.

I feel sick over the events that transpired this week. I’m emotionally traumatized over the wound that was inflicted on the city and people of Boston and disturbed by the reactions of our government and the media.  I am not ok with the imposition of martial law and the cheering in the streets over the capture of a 19 year old boy. It’s like premature ejaculation. Your media blitz foreplay didn’t do shit for me. I have questions and now I am left waiting for something more that I will never get.

We are NOT sheeple

I don’t want to be pegged as some crazy conspiracy theorist, but this is not an open and shut case. It’s just NOT.  I believe in a healthy dose of skepticism, especially when we are being spoon fed facts from the media. I don’t  have the answers, I am not even sure of all the questions to ask. I just know that something isn’t sitting right with me.  Wake up. As a nation we have now have a reliance on fallacious appeals to authority. It’s NOT ok. QUESTION AUTHORITY. There’s a reason that bumper sticker was so popular in the 70s.  Stop drinking the fluoridated kool-aid water.  That boy was tried and convicted in the media. We’ll never know the truth and to me, that is not ok. A little reminder from Bobby:

“It should be clear that, if one man’s rights are denied, the rights of all are in danger-that if one man is denied equal protection of the law, we cannot be sure that we will enjoy freedom of speech or any other of our fundamental rights.” ~Robert F. Kennedy

On a related note of frustration; apparently a significant number of Americans think the Czech Republic and Chechnya are the same place. So many in fact that the Czech Embassy had to issue a public statement. I’m sorry, but are you fucking kidding me?  This is mortifying.  Come on America, you’re better than this. Open a book. Learn something. Travel. OPEN YOUR EYES.

Educate yourself. Inspire others to do the same and we will Transform our community and world.

Advocacy

Of Self Preservation and Social Media

I am passionate about a number of things but the big ones tend to revolve around women (feminism), environment and politics. It’s the interconnection of feminism, environmentalism, politics, activism and spirituality – otherwise known as [modern] ecofeminism.

My personal soap boxes include reproductive justice (including abortion, birth choice, breast feeding and maternity rights), the right to naturally cultivated, organic food (including Anti-GMO, right to grow, raw milk, farmers collectives) and environmental health issues, specifically in women (including EDCs/Breast Cancer and patriarchal dominated research funding).

Given the recent passage of that sneaky little thing referred to by many as the Monsanto Protection Act, the Anti-GMO movement has been my hot button this week.  I am helping to organize the March Against Monsanto for New Brunswick, NJ.  The lead organizer asked me to be one of the speakers at the rally. At first I was terrified (I haven’t dug into that type of public speaking since college), then I was psyched and said yes. Then I analyzed it from a conflicts of interest and office politics perspective and told her I would have to think about it.

I love advocacy rhetoric.

Show me a cause to fight for and I want to know and understand the words you use in your fight, if they work, why and how.  It’s the exhilarating part of campaign work for me. I love being an active participant in democracy; speaking out and fighting for the things I believe in. After all, Democracy is NOT a spectator sport.

But right now, I love my financial stability a bit more. My resurgence into political activism is failing miserably. I feel like a bad activist.

Being caught in the press on video advocating against Monsanto and collectively GMO and GM  may be down right dangerous for my job security.  How do you fight the big man, when the big man indirectly pays your bills? A non-profit institute of higher education pays my bills directly but their bills get paid through research dollars and a significant amount those research dollars come from biotech.  I have only been here a year…I may need to get some time under my bootstraps before I start shaking the tree.  But I am not giving up. I emailed my Executive Director as well as the Director of Conflicts in the Office of General Counsel to get their thoughts. However, OGC may have their hands full right now given the latest athletic scandal.

SIDE NOTE: when are people going to wake up and realize that Athletic culture is FUCKED UP?? It’s BROKEN.  Freaking fix it already.

So I will wait to hear back from my director and OGC to see whether or not I can take advantage of an incredible opportunity  to speak in front of 100s of people on a day that 1000s of Davids protest Goliath. If they don’t think it’s the best idea, I will continue to help organize and I will attend, I’ll just stay out of the spotlight. It’s totally frustrating and disheartening, but at this moment, self preservation is key.

Now, getting back to my happy place.

I’ve been doing some awesome work with the Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation on their Communications Committee. I am spearheading a rebranding campaign for them including color palette, logo rules, voice/tone and the whole shebang. I’m also working with another volunteer to give the blog (and website) a visual and content facelift.  I love this stuff. I was up last night until midnight jamming on content, editorial calendars, layout and SEO.

I don’t know where this mega nerd in me came from, but she’s hot.

I think she probably came from B-School. Thanks, Marie. Even though I don’t run a business anymore, you definitely flipped a switch in me! The more I look back on my time spent with LBG the more I realize what I loved was the branding, the social media the digital campaign work. Understanding that is making it easier to let go a little, more and more each day.

I already need to pick my classes for Fall 2013…given my love for everything social media, I think I am starting to fall into the Digital Media side of the program more and more. The director of the MCIS program actually predicted that this would be where I would end up.

Advocacy, Feminism

So you’re tired of hearing about “rape culture”?

Just read it…and don’t stop talking. The conversation must go on until the problem is resolved.

Rethink the Rant

TRIGGER WARNING:

The following includes descriptions, photos, and video that may serve as a trigger for victims of sexual violence.
Please be advised. 

Someone asked me today, “What is ‘rape culture’ anyway? I’m tired of hearing about it.”

Yeah, I hear ya. I’m tired of talking about it. But I’m going to keep talking about it because people like you keep asking that question.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and though there are dozens of witnesses, no one says, “Stop.”

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and though there are dozens of witnesses, they can’t get anyone to come forward.

Rape culture is when a group of athletes rape a young girl, and adults are informed of it, but no consequences are doled out because the boys “said nothing happened.”

Rape culture is when a group…

View original post 1,115 more words

Advocacy, Feminism

Thoughts on Stubenville

Yesterday, the verdict for the Stubenville rape case came out.  I was shocked and disappointed in the 1 & 2 year sentences the rapists received. Today I am physically nauseated. I can’t wrap my brain around the reaction and create full sentences. I am stupefied. I am disgusted by the rape culture that our society embraces. I am disturbed by the slut shaming and the twisted way the media has created victims out of criminals.  It makes me want to crumple into a ball and cry. To just give up and surrender defeat.

I am dazed and confused in the overwhelm. When confronted with this type of  overwhelm; at the vastness of the problem to you act or lay down in defeat? Do you lick your wounds in the corner and try not to make a sound? Do you pretend it never happened, smile and embrace the fact that tomorrow is a new day?  Do you keep it to yourself?  (Do these questions sound all too familiar????????)

In grappling with these questions I’m moving from overwhelm and sorrow to anger.  I am pissed off.   I want to jump up, punch the rape apologists in the face and give a hearty FUCK YOU  to the media outlets (CNN, ABC, NBC and USA Today…and especially Fox News for outing the victim).

We can’t give up.  We can’t let overwhelm feed apathy. We have to continue.  We have to fight. To change one mind at a time.  We have to BE the change.

Advocacy, Feminism, Inspiration

Fired Up for Women

VAWA Passes

Today the Violence Against Women Act passed.  286 to 138. The 138 that voted against it were all Republicans. Remind me again how any woman can be a member of this party in its current form?  Come on Republicans! Take back your party from the right wing nut jobs. They are ruining it for you!

Yes, I am a liberal. Yes, I am a feminist. Yes, I am a Green Party member. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a intelligent, sane, fiscally conservative Republican. It doesn’t mean I refused to work with those on the other side to come up with something better than the status quo. I know that ideas can’t operate in a vacuum.  We learn more and make greater progress when someone is questioning our beliefs and ideology. It forces us to be concise, understand our position from the inside and out and view things from a different perspective.  Surround yourself with the same thoughts and nothing new will arise. Creativity and innovation require diversity. In order for any innovation evolution to actually occur, the people in opposite corners can’t be irrational wackjobs!! When we are so pigeon holed into our own beliefs we can’t see the sunlight, we are actually moving backwards, not fowards. This is today’s political deadlock.

Last night I watched Makers. Loved it. Loved every second of it.  I want to watch documentaries like that every single day. I couldn’t love Gloria Steinem and Hilary Clinton any more than I already do. It was interesting to be reminded that the Religious Right was birthed from the feminist movement. I always forget the connection. Phyllis Schlafly makes me so bitter.  Watching the movie reminded me so much of my college days. Working for Planned Parenthood, volunteering for NOW, feeling fired up, feeling strong, feeling like a bad ass chick. All. The. Time.

But right now I feel an immense sense of disappointment and failure. I was so very active in college. And then I did nothing. I started writing checks and buying memberships. I turned into a passive activist. I am the youth of the 90s that ended up taking things for granted.  I got complacent.  At the same time, part of me feels a little bit betrayed. I’m a member of this weird Third Wave feminist generation. As a daughter of the 70s I had the opportunity to go to college, I even played sports in college.  I reaped the benefits of their blood, sweat and tears. I was taught I could have it all.  My education is rich, my career path diverse and now, here I am thinking about family when it in fact may be too late. tick tock tick tock. You just may have spent too much time basking in your independence to actually start a family. Would I take it all back and give up liberation? Never. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

And the pendulum swings again.

Is the third wave of feminism over? Or are we simply evolving into someone, something new? There is so much work to do. The Women’s Liberation movement was just the beginning. If you think the fight is over, you’re wrong. We’re far from equal. I am employed at a public university with one of the best Women’s Studies departments in the country. We have a world  renowned Institute for Women’s Leadership (I actually got the opportunity to interview the Director last week- great stuff). Yet, I just found out that the male counterpart in my office makes 10K more than I do. We do the same exact job. This isn’t a big secret. We’re State employees, our salaries are posted on line to the public. It never crossed my mind when I accepted my job that I could possibly be anything less than equal. If you dig deeper it gets worse, the disparity in upper management, the tenured vs. non tenured professors…it’s shocking. The irony is a tough pill to swallow. The  Institute for Women’s Leadership has received private and federal grants to research women in leadership and gender workplace issues. Too bad they’re not contacting their own HR department.

There is so much more to do, locally, nationally and globally. It’s overwhelming, but when women gather together, there is no doubt we will change the world.  I am so inspired by the youth of today. They’re not lazy or passive. They have a big task to build upon what my mothers and third wave couldn’t finish. I love the explosion of feminist pride in social media (Twitter Youth Feminist Army, #Thankafeminist, unpacking the f word and so many more!).  All this women’s energy has helped me to get clear about a number of things in my life right now; my research direction, my commitment to volunteering with Phi Sigma Sigma and a commitment to stop being a passive activist.  It’s time to get fired up again.

Advocacy

Critical Thinking and Run-On Sentences

What’s wrong with standardized tests

Yesterday I read a piece in the Washington Post entitled A warning to college professors from a high school teacher, by Valerie Strauss. It was the reprint of a letter that first appeared in Academe, the journal of the American Association of University Professors by Kenneth Bernstein.  It’s a searing criticism of 2001’s No Child Left Behind Act and an eye opener in educational policy written by policy makers without any practical (hands on teaching) experience.  I immediately tweeted the article out to @PeteDomenick (who by the way, never responds to my tweets- jerk!) because it’s a topic that I would love to hear on his radio show, Stand UP with Pete Domenick.

Bernstein’s arguments all make perfect sense to me. As a yoga teacher and student, I know that the very best teachers/classes are taught not by the ones that have studied yogic philosophy or taken 1000s of hours of trainings. But the ones that have studied and taught 1000s of classes.  As a law student that has moved from classes to clinical to practice.  I know that hands-on is always the best. It’s practical vs. the theoretical.

I finished college before No Child Left Behind. I was never subject to the ridiculous rigorous testing that students face today. I personally don’t think I could handle it.  I am the woman who chose to law school instead of graduate school simply because the LSAT didn’t include math. LSATs are a different kind of testing. It’s reading comprehension and logic. It’s not just multiple choice. It IS critical thinking.  I don’t know much about education policy but I do believe that generally, standardized testing does not accurately reflect one’s intelligence.  And forcing children to conform to A, B, C, D or sometimes E doesn’t foster critical thinking.  All that being said,  culpability for the inability of today’s youth to think critically can’t be placed only on standardized tests.

The internet internet is making us stupid.

OMG + LOL,

More specifically, lazy internet chatter is making us stupid.  It’s not the access to unlimited amounts of knowledge, it’s social networking. Chat rooms, forums, Facebook and twitter feeds have dulled our wordsmithing prowess and ability to critically analyze and articulate thoughts.  In college I excelled at writing. Rhetorical advocacy was my forte. I could whip out a thought provoking, moving, campaign speech  in a matter of hours.  In law school, my verbosity exploded and was then reigned in by Wydick (thank you, Plain English for Lawyers).  Whether it was too many words, or concise words, I could still string them together properly.  Grammar was my best friend.

Since finishing my LL.M, a few things have changed;  I stopped writing on a daily basis, my reading habits changed and social media exploded.  Social marketing IS the way to do business today.  If you’re not tweeting, emailing, building your list and interacting with others online, your business isn’t thriving, it’s most likely failing. The hip way to write these days is with creative punctuation accented with the creative use of color, font and italics for emphasis. Gone of the days of using punctuation to make an exclamation (even if we did annoy Elaine with the excessive !!!!! use). Now it’s font size and color.  No one has done this more effectively than Danielle LaPorte. (Side note: I have immense respect for Danielle. I have purchased both her books, I am on her list. I retweet her words on the regular. I am a fan).  Danielle put “+” on the map and it has since spread like wildfire.  There isn’t one single fempreneuer out there that hasn’t pilfered from her marketing formula. As a female business owner I’ve done the same. Live. Breathe. Grow. and Sprouting Wellness emails were sent out focused on

 ATTENTION + CALL TO ACTION

Critical thought, complete sentences and grammar have been tossed out the window.  As a small business owner, I enrolled in online marketing school. I hired other fempreneuers to teach me their secrets to social media copy.  I was in the thick of the social marketing game.  It’s social marketing for the MTV generation and it has fucked with our ability to construct grammatically correct critical thought! Strunk & White are crying in the corner.

And now, here I type, small business laid to rest (for them moment- never say never), embarking on a Ph.D, and I can’t remember how to write.  I am not a member of the No Child Left Behind generation. I am their big sister. I was taught to think critically and to write in high school, college and law school (thank you, Scott Gibbs, Susan Picard, Paul Erickson, Andy Freed, Jim May and Cliff Fechtschaffen).  I have the burning desire to dig through boxes in my father attic, searching for my Advocacy and Argument, persuasive writing and  Rhetorical Theory notebooks from college simply so I can participate in an intelligent written discussion in one of my graduate online classes.  I can’t blame standardized tests.  The only thing I have to blame is too much time lost in online forums and opinions limited to 140 characters or less.

Advocacy, Feminism

Top 5 Celebrity Chicks that Rock My World

Women don’t give enough props to other women. I crush on girls all. the. time. It’s got nothing to do with sexuality, get your small minds out of the gutter. It’s everything to do with seeing attractive qualities in another. Sometimes they are qualities I wish I had. Sometimes I just think, wow, girl you are fierce!  This is just my celebrity list. One day I might get to my internet pseudo-celebrity list, just not today.

So in no particular order….

Ashley Judd

JUDD 2014

I don’t care what you say, this woman is EXCEPTIONAL. I first fell in love with Ashley Judd, not as a starlet, but for her political activism.  It was love at first sight when I heard her speak at the March for Women’s Lives in 2004. She blew me away then and I think she’s still a stunning example of a feminist activist. I certainly hope she runs for Senate in Kentucky in 2014. I would move there just to vote for her!

Jenny McCarthy

Jenny McCarthy

My crush on Jennie goes back to MTV’s first dating programming, Singled Out with Chris Hardwick. I loved how a blonde could have such sharp whit and humor. Yes, she was a playboy bunny, but even playing the part of bimbo co-host she was intelligent and hysterical.  I love her even more for her heart felt activism. Regardless of the vaccination debate, Jenny put awareness for autism-spectrum children on the map. She’s goofy, she’s gorgeous, she’s determined and she’s a fierce momma bear.

Rachel Maddow

I want to be besties with Rachel Maddow SO BADLY

My husband is a financial advisor. He’s got the news on 24/7. Every night I would come home to Rachel. As background noise, it drove me crazy. When I actually started listening to her she catapulted up the girl crush list. She’s liberal, she’s gay and she’s unapologetic for her beliefs. She’s an outspoken feminist.  She’s not simply a TV personality on MSNBC. The woman is SMART. She has a Ph.D in Philosophy from Oxford. Oh and she’s a dog lover.

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda – circe 1950-60 something.

When I was a kid, I remember my father hating her. He was a Viet Nam Vet, and used to call her GI Jane. I never got it.  I just knew she was the lady on my mom’s exercise videos. When I grew up, went to college and got more than a high school history lesson on the Viet Nam war, I understood it….but I didn’t agree with it.  Her activist resume is extensive and I just love her because she’s an opinionated, mouthy broad with class. (Confession: I own a VHS copy of Barbarella).

Tina Fey

Ms Bossypants.

She had me at SNL with her humor. She kept me with her book, Bossypants.  From one bossypants to another, I got it. I have so much respect for a woman who does more than make it in a seriously male dominated industry.

Honorable mentions go to:
Jada Pinket Smith
Julia Stiles
Janeane Garafolo
Geena Davis
Reese Witherspoon
Hilary Swank

My list seems to make it apparent, I like the funny, feminist ladies!

Who do you celebrity girl crush on?

Advocacy, Environmentalism, Feminism

Scanning, Dabbling and Changing the World…

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is more for my own brain dumping edification than for your entertainment. 

Since early college, I wanted to work in/run a non-profit organization. I majored in political communication/campaign management an minored in women’s studies with that intent. I fell in love with Marian Wright Eddleman, Gloria Steinem and Sarah Weddington.  I volunteered  for various women’s groups, political candidates and environmental organizations. I continued volunteering after college while supporting myself by waitressing. And I kept having recurring conversations with my parents that always ended with “you have to get a real job”  “you can’t work for nothing” “you can’t volunteer forever”

So I stopped my volunteer work and went to law school. I think my intention was to skip the trenches (unpaid) and jump to the executive (paid) levels in the non-profit/campaign world. I thought that the letters after my name would get me there (rather than the paying the time + dues + dirty work). Of course, I was wrong. Accordingly, I have never been able to actually land a job with a NPO or campaign that I actually believe in and have passion for.

I have dabbled in all the little things I believe in or want to advocate for without actually fully committing to that profession.

I went to law school because I thought it would open the door to work in Non-profits.  I got an LLM in environmental law, because I  wanted to work in environmental advocacy. I got certified as a yoga instructor because I believe in and want to advocate for the balance of body + mind + spirit. I got certified as a holistic health coach because I believe in and want to advocate for natural, whole foods and a healthy lifestyle in balance with nature and the earth’s cycles. I got certified as a birth doula because I believe in and want to advocate for a woman’s choice for natural birth without unnecessary medical intervention. I trained in Mayan Abdominal Massage because I think every woman should intimately know (and be able to take charge of) how her body works.

I never really wanted to be a lawyer. I never wanted to teach yoga (though I love doing so). I never wanted to be a health coach.  I never really wanted to be a doula, I never wanted to give abdominal massages.  I just wanted to learn. I just wanted to have the knowledge to be able to credibly advocate by/for/about these things.

There is a (ridiculous) saying – those who can’t do, teach. I think the saying should be those who are afraid to do, continue to learn.  I am stuck in a perpetual cycle of learning. Am I afraid of doing?

There has to be a bit of fear in there somewhere… The fear of not being able to find the job that satiates me, not being able to make a living at that job, not being able to make a difference.  The common denominator to those fears, is insecurity, it’s the fear of not being good enough. Not being flexible enough, peaceful enough, healthy enough, strong enough, inspirational enough, articulate enough, just not enough.

My own perception of competition terrifies me.  There are millions of yoga teachers, health coaches, business coaches, life coaches out there. There are 1000s of non-profit organizations designed to save the environment, empower women and fight for healthy options. The idea of having to be as good as any one of them terrifies me.  What will make me unique? What will make what I do special? Stand out? Make a difference without taking away from something or someone else?

I’ve read the Fire Starter Sessions, I’ve read A Course In Miracles, I’ve gone through B-school, I’ve Dream Mapped, I’ve Surrenderd. I am well versed in the laws of attraction and abundance and theoretically understand that there is plenty for everyone and the right “clients” are out there for me. But I still can’t seem to move past the fear of not being as good as XYZ. I’ve been a passive participant in all of it, without truly taking action.

Part of the problem is understanding my big crazy dream, inside and out.  I can’t narrow it down. I can’t pick just one thing.  It’s so large and vast.  I think the common thread in all of it is advocacy on one level or another for the diverse things I am passionate about.

  • I want to create an advocacy think-tank that serves non-profit, heart centered or purpose driven organizations. I want to design + create their campaigns, their branding, and their message.
  • I want to run a non-profit organization that DOES GOOD and that SERVES. But what good things and what service, I don’t know.
  • I physically want to create things using my hands. Dig in the dirt. Recycle, re-purpose, build.

What does all of this mean? How does it all come together? Where is the clarity?

I bring all of this up because as a graduate student, working toward my Ph.D, I need to make a choice. I need to hone in on a research topic. A subject. A field to become an expert in.  I have had meetings with professors in the Political Science, Digital Media, Communications and Public Policy departments.  I am somewhere between ecofeminism, the rhetoric of advocacy, branding for non-profits and campaigns and environmental communication. How do I pull it all together?  I want to smash the fluffy-bunny-wiccan-men-hating paradigm attached to the ecofeminist movement, to write a revised manifesto for MODERN Ecofeminism.  I want to understand the rhetoric that makes a campaign successful and tell PETA, “you’re doing it wrong.” I want to be the person that designs the words to tell the world “economic growth isn’t compatible with environmental protection, but here’s how we can do better. This is how we fix it.”  I want to start a movement that’s bigger than a Facebook group or a Google + Community that is true high-risk activism.  I want to scream at the online generation that Social Networks are making us apathetic.  CLICKING LIKE isn’t going to change the world. You have to get up off your ass to do that!  I want to be the David that slays Monsanto.

I want to put it in my mouth, chew on it and come up with a thesis statement.