Archive for July, 2011

Reaching Out Across MovementS

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Highlander Center, ROAMS, Southeast 2000

8:00am: Wake up on the floor of a community center, get ready for the day, roll up sleeping bag, head to the purple, 15 passenger van
8:30am: Eat granola bar in van, drive 2 hours from Leavenworth, WA to Seattle, WA
10:30am: Visit Aradia Women’s Health Center, a pro-choice women’s health center

At Subway on ROAMS 2000

1:00pm: Stop for lunch at Subway (for the zillionth time!)
1:30pm: Visit El Centro de la Raza, an organization of Chicano and Latino individuals that fights for worker’s rights, provides assistance to young mothers and works with youth to promote bilingualism and educate them on Chicano and Latina history
4:00pm: Visit the Community Coalition for Environmental Justice, an organization that mobilizes youth of color to work on environmental justice issues affecting their community
6:00pm: Visit Tribes Project, an organization that provides race relations education through the performing arts
7:30pm: Dinner, reflection time, and finally, bedtime!

The van, ROAMS 2000

Tomorrow: Repeat!

Group photo, ROAMS, Southeast (2000)That’s just one day on the road with ROAMS — Reaching Out Across MovementS — a series of immersive experiences for youth social justice activists, organized and led by Third Wave from 2000 to 2002. Over the course of those three years, ROAMS participants traveled to the Southeast, the Pacific Northwest, and the Southwest to visit community-based organizations in each region. There, they met with activists and organizers to learn first-hand about issues that their communities face, making connections with other activists, and building a movement together.

On the inaugural ROAMS 2000 trip, participant Julie Shah stated the goal was to “connect, network, and share movement building resources with organizations and individuals using a multi-issue social justice perspective in their work.” During ROAMS 2002 in the Southwest, participants learned how the women’s movement relates to immigration activism, as community organizer and participant Kat Rodriguez explained how “domestic violence is connected to the economic situation of the family, which is tied to the immigration status of the family.” Connecting such issues demonstrated how multi-issue social justice movements are fostered.

ROAMS 2000 participants

ROAMS provided a unique opportunity for young feminist activists to learn about issues facing diverse communities and how different organizations respond to those struggles. The format of their meetings was much more personal and went deeper than any formal conference could. Meetings with the grassroots groups were much more than a one-way education on a specific issue. Rather, ROAMS participants had the chance to ask provocative questions that allowed them and the leaders of organizations they met with to truly think critically about their work together, to consider their role in social change, and to consider a range of different ways to address community issues.

I Spy Sexism, ROAMS 2000

The wide breadth of people on the trip also contributed to its unique nature, for each participant brought a different perspective to discussions about activism. The ROAMS participants ranged in age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and background. Further, their familiarity with grassroots organizations and social issues was equally diverse.

confederate flag protest ROAMS

From the leaders of local organizations, to participants who were just beginning to realize how they can be involved in social change, to Third Wave staff members (including co-founder Amy Richards and Third Wave’s first Director, Vivien Labaton), and pre-existing members of Third Wave chapters, each person on the trip related to social justice and Third Wave in a different way.

ROAMS, Mia HerndonWith their experiences in activism training, meetings with organizations, protests, and just going out dancing in a new city, ROAMS participants cultivated a special bond. As ROAMS 2000 participant, Mia Herndon, writes, “I feel like I learned so much about people and group dynamics…I’m grateful for the times when I was moved to extreme laughter and tears, and feel so happy to have met certain folks who I hope will remain a part of my life.” After participating in ROAMS, Mia went on to become Third Wave’s Outreach Coordinator, and now, ten years later, serves as Third Wave’s Executive Director.

ROAMS, Nidhi KashyapNidhi Kashyap had a similarly life-changing experience, where visiting SAWERA (South Asian Women’s Empowerment and Resource Alliance) on ROAMS 2000 was the impetus for her to become involved in activism for the South Asian community at her school, University of Wisconsin. Nidhi also became even more active in the Madison, WI chapter of Third Wave.

Beyond being a formative experience for the participants, ROAMS was also informative for Third Wave’s larger approach to its grantmaking, underscoring the importance of valuing organizations’ expertise on the ground and identifying and supporting organizations that are often under-resourced by philanthropy.

Looking back at ROAMS was inspiring for us — and maybe it jogged your memory of those early days at Third Wave, too. Do you know someone who went on one of the ROAMS trips? (Maybe it was you!) Or are you familiar with one of the participating organizations? We’d love to hear your reflections on ROAMS as we enter into our fifteenth year of supporting feminist youth activism across the US. For those of you who have been with us since those summer days of all getting on the bus together, your vision and commitment is still firmly rooted in our work today.

ROAMS, Endeshia and Vivien

The Sallie Bingham Center: Making Feminist History

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

My name is Lillie and I am a summer intern at Third Wave. For the past six weeks, I have been organizing Third Wave’s archives, which will soon be housed in Duke University’s Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture. The Sallie Bingham Center is an amazing resource for anyone interested in women’s history. I had the opportunity to use some of their archives when writing a paper about the use of theater in activism during second wave feminism.

I had been to the Duke library plenty of times before, but I never noticed a big wooden door down the hall from the library’s entrance, until I was searching for the Sallie Bingham Center. I opened the door and found a quiet room that was partitioned by a glass wall. I saw students working with (what I assumed to be) archival documents on the other side of the glass — it almost felt like I was looking into a fish tank or something. The librarians at the front desk were extremely helpful in providing a background on the Center and directing me to a set of archives related to second wave activism, entitled, “The Nikki Craft Papers.” After signing some forms and hearing the rules about working with archives, I was allowed to go through the glass door and enter the other side of the room. A librarian passed the box of archives to me through a sliding window, and I was all set to begin.

The Nikki Craft Papers came in one box and it was full of all kinds of materials — from newsletters, to fliers, to correspondence and more. I had to use caution as I flipped through the pages, for some of the documents were very fragile. Students also have to keep close track of the order of the documents and keep the box away from the edge of the work tables so that they do not fall. I was a little nervous about doing something clumsy, but I quickly got lost in the materials I was looking at, and I barely noticed the hours that went by.

One document that interested me in particular was Craft’s account of her 1975 protest against the B-1 bomber. For this activism, Craft sneaked into a meeting that was attended by executives of Rockwell International (the company that developed the B-1 bomber) and presented the men with naked, bloodied blow-up dolls, saying “This represents what the B-1 bomber will do for peace.” I enjoyed writing about this example of activism because it highlighted some of the advantages and disadvantages of theater activism. One obvious advantage is that it can be very “in your face” and seeing a physical representation of a political stance (rather than simply reading a sign) can add depth and force to one’s point. However, it is also hard to control how other people interpret a theatrical protest, and even more so, how the media will portray the event.

In Nikki Craft’s case, the Wall Street Journal did mention her protest in their coverage of the Rockwell meeting, but the journalist merely referred to it as a “bizarre incident” and stated that organizers of the meeting immediately shut the lights off, thereby hiding the repercussions of Craft’s act and dramatically cutting off the impact that Craft was probably hoping to have at the meeting. Craft’s activism at the Rockwell meeting also caused me to wonder about the effectiveness of individual protests. It was certainly brave of her to do this radical act basically on her own, but I also wonder if being by herself affected her ability to have a greater impact on the meeting attendees and to gain the attention of the media.

Being able to read Craft’s account of her protest firsthand, through a primary source, definitely helped me feel more engaged when writing my paper, and I know I am not the only student who has felt this way, for a fellow Duke student wrote about having an equally inspiring experience at the Sallie Bingham Center here. Housing Third Wave’s archives at the Sallie Bingham Center will similarly engage future students, researchers, and the general public interested in third wave feminism. The Sallie Bingham Center also makes a great effort to digitize their archives so that anyone with internet access can view them. I believe that Third Wave’s archive collection will be useful to both researchers, people with an interest in activism, and anyone involved in Third Wave who wants to “take a walk down memory lane.” Including Third Wave in the Sallie Bingham Center archive’s is especially important, for, not only does Third Wave’s history highlight characteristics of third wave feminism and activism, but it also serves as an inspiring example of a progressive foundation that has remained wholly dedicated to young women and transgender youth since its early years. I think I can speak for Third Wave’s staff when I say that we are excited and reassured to know that Third Wave’s unique story will be safely held and available to the public for years to come.