In an effort to build a progressive network of feminist activists, Third Wave developed ROAMS (Reaching Out Across MovementS), a trip that brings young women activists together with progressive organizations in regions that are historically under-funded by national foundations. ROAMS was an innovative program that combined Third Wave’s core issues of supporting activism, philanthropy, and leadership development opportunities for young women.
Over three years, ROAMS connected young women with over 120 organizations in the Southeast, Pacific Northwest, and Southwest to discuss the challenges in their work and opportunities for young women’s activism. During ROAMS, Third Wave met with organizations working on a wide range of progressive social justice issues including reproductive rights, farm labor organizing, public education, lesbian and gay youth organizing, philanthropy, and groups working on other social justice issues.
In the Southeast, thirteen diverse women, in a 15-person passenger van, traveled 2,900 miles across six states: Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. We met with over 35 progressive organizations, and approximately 110 individuals.
In the Pacific Northwest, we visited Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. A delegation of phenomenal young activists (including some returning participants from the Southeast ROAMS) began the journey across the Northwest. In 17 days, we met with groups in urban centers such as Seattle and Portland, as well as in the rural areas of Idaho and Montana, where as one local noted, “It’s a lot easier to find an Aryan Nation group than a progressive one.” We participated in a conference on community activism in Portland run by the Western States Center (a prominent social change organization), and took part in a joint meeting between the Feminist Women’s Health Center, the People of Color Against AIDS network, and the Washington Alliance for Immigrant and Refugee Justice in Yakima, Washington. We met with a legislator in Eugene, an environmental rights group in West Yellowstone, Montana, an American Indian Performance troupe in Seattle, and many more.
In the Southwest, Third Wave took 13 young women activists to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Similar to other regions we have visited, the Southwest is underserved in many ways — politically, philanthropically, economically, and educationally. Moreover, the challenging dynamics of la frontera (the border) yield a different set of constituents and issues. Issues in the Southwest range from the booming private prison industry, to border patrol and immigration abuses, to migrant health, to basic human rights in the colonias.