Happy Anniversary to NWGSDPDX!
On the dark, cold evening of November 13th, thirty-five shell shocked women gathered in my living room to brainstorm ways to help our community. The unimaginable had happened and now, as women, we felt the need to carry the load. To spring into action. To make it all okay. To get shit done.
To start our meeting, a friend led us in a breathing exercise. "You probably haven't
allowed yourselves to breathe this whole week," she said. It was true. Most of us had tears in our eyes as we took a few deep, long, calming breaths. Little did we know that
we were about to begin one of the most emotionally trying years most of us have ever experienced. We exhaled and we dove in head first.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
As we talked that night, we set several goals:
1) Share with our community a supportive message that includes and upholds the rights of all people and the preservation of our planet.
2) Find ways to support the most marginalized and targeted communities.
3) Make lists of all of our legislators' contact info and make phone calls, send emails and send postcards to them on a regular basis.
4) Educate fellow community members with info we learn and resources we gather.
Our mission: To support an era of activism, democracy and progressive politics in which we advocate for social, financial, and environmental justice.
Over the next few months, things happened fast. The blur of days and nights and weeks and months was reminiscent of my early days as a new mom. Some days, I barely had time to shower or eat, but I woke up every morning ready to do it all again. After a while, the exhaustion, stress, and fluctuating emotions morphed into empowerment, focus, and persistence.
The collaboratively designed "In Our America" graphic resonated with people around the country and it took a slew of volunteers working around the clock to keep local stores stocked and to package up and ship out merchandise.
We printed and sold tens of thousands of yard signs, posters, stickers, buttons, and hoodies and we have donated all of the profits (over $67,500 so far) to organizations that are working to uphold the tenets on the "In Our America" flag (see detailed list below). We have a productive and supportive Facebook group with over 6,000 members and an active website with lists of Daily Actions and local events as well as educational resources and downloadable pdfs. We formed a 501(c)(4) with a seven member board and the design has now been translated into 14 languages.
In addition to raising money for non-profits, we have encouraged our members to take action by organizing postcard writing gatherings and urging our members to reach out to political representatives nationwide. We attend peaceful protests and host monthly meetings with guest speakers on topics that include micro aggressions and white privilege. In May, we organized a social justice conference for over 250 attendees and on September 11th, we hosted a concert and silent auction called "United We Stand" to benefit Unite Oregon.
2017 has been a roller coaster of emotions as we navigate through this almost unbelievable nightmare, where each day's bad news is worse than the previous day's bad news. Where science is disputed and hatred is allowed and encouraged to rear its ugly head. Where corruption and lies run rampant. Where the decisions of this administration threaten our democracy.
But, through it all, there has been a LIGHT.
An uprising of women, a resistance, a wakening, an end to the silence and complacency. People are stepping up and speaking out.
And we have to believe that there is HOPE. That good will prevail. That LOVE WINS.
As a group, we MUST continue to commit ourselves to this cause.
We must never allow ourselves to drift back into complacency.
We must continue to rise up and to resist.
We must fight for our democracy. We must persist.
Collectively, we have power and when we work together, we WIN.
It has taken the hard work of SO many incredible people to make this happen, so I want to send some shout outs and love to:
Kirsten Hunter: We have been friends since high school and it has been amazing to work with you on this project. We were nasty then and, I'm proud to say, we have gotten even nastier as we age! Thank you for your friendship and for being on this journey with me. It has been quite a year. I think some of our high school teachers would faint if they could see us now.
NWGSDPDX board members (Molly Lee, Cindi Carrell, Tara Stutsman, Marcia Alvar, and Meghan Prichard): I am so grateful for your time, energy, ideas, and humor and I feel very fortunate to be working with such an outstanding group of people. You ladies ROCK!
Susan Eisman: Thanks for your help getting this off the ground and for all of your input into this project.
Artists and graphic designers (Jason Maxfield, Sean Donnell, Susan Bard, Patty McNally): Thanks, Jason, for creating the foundation of the original design and Sean for putting it into a graphic and for creating our logo. Thanks, Susan for your design work on the translations, for creating our conference graphic, and for all of the other work you have done for us over the past year. Patty - thanks for the gorgeous holiday cards and garland and for your work on the (future) mural.
Marie Sherlock, Marty Griffy, and Scott Griffy: Thanks for handling all of our shipping. It is such a relief to know that is in capable hands. We love you!
Retail locations: We can't thank you enough for being willing to sell "In Our America" merchandise for us and for helping to spread this message throughout our community.
Volunteers: We could not have done this without you. You have stepped up every time we asked for help. Restocking stores, packaging up and shipping boxes, designing logos and graphics, taking photos, writing press releases, staffing events, posting resources on the website, and so much more. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Local organizers (Asha Dornfest, Heather Nicholas, Megan Corvus, Laura Stanford Rochelois, Nikki Fisher, Natalie Sept, Lisa Frack, Debra Kolodny, Erica Fuller, Maria Aron, Mary Schutten, Laurel Carrasco, and so many others): It has been an honor to get to know you, to work with you, to learn from you. Looking forward to many more years with my sister resisters.
My co-workers at my paid job: Thanks for your patience and support. I know I have been a bit distracted this year. I have honestly never in my life worked with a finer group of people and I hope you know how much I respect and love every single one of you.
My kids (J and K): Thank you for understanding why I was so busy, stressed, overworked, and emotional this past year and thanks for not freaking out when you came home from school to find boxes stacked from floor to ceiling in our house. You have both grown into such strong young women and I'm so proud of you. And sorry about all the times you had to cook dinner for yourselves (it's an important skill to have and you will thank me for it some day).
NWGSDPDX members: My lovely Nasties - thank you all for your time, your energy, your strength, and for being a part of this journey. You have made it through a really tough year. Keep writing those postcards, making phone calls, sending emails, marching, rallying, speaking out, and stepping up. You are stronger than you think.
As of November 2017 (one year since we began), we have donated a total of $67,500 to:
$10,000 to Lutheran Community Services Northwest’s Housing Emergency Fund, which subsidizes rent for incoming refugees. www.lcsnw.org/portland
$5,000 to JOIN to support Portland’s homeless as they transition into permanent housing. www.joinpdx.org
$5,000 to Causa to support Latino immigrants. www.causaoregon.org
$5,000 to TAP to support Portland’s transgender community. www.transassistance.org
$200 to the Anti Defamation League. www.adl.org
$100 to Hasel Afshar, a local resident whose house was destroyed and spray painted with anti-immigrant graffiti.
$5,000 to Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform. www.albinaministerialcoalition.org
$650 to Mobilikidz, a group of three International Baccalaureate students from Cleveland High School, to fund their service project to modify two toy firetrucks into joystick operated vehicles for young children with mobility disabilities. www.mobilikidz.cu.cc
$1,000 to Catholic Charities to support incoming refugees. www.catholiccharitiesoregon.org
$5,000 to NAYA (Native American Youth & Family Center). www.nayapdx.org
$5,000 to Unite Oregon to support building a unified intercultural movement for justice. www.uniteoregon.org
$5,000 to Raphael House to end domestic violence. www.raphaelhouse.com
$1,000 to Oregon Peace Institute to fund de-escalation and bystander intervention trainings. www.orpeace.us
$5,000 to Opal Environmental Justice to build power for environmental justice and civil rights in our communities. www.opalpdx.org
$3,500 to the Oregon DACA Coalition to grant scholarships to DACA recipients renewing their paperwork. www.oregondacacoalition.org
$5,000 to Disability Rights Oregon to advocate for Oregonians with disabilities. www.droregon.org
$840 to The Passport Project in Gresham to pay for passports for American born children of immigrants.
$3,000 to Taller Salud to support relief efforts in Puerto Rico. www.tallersalud.com
$1,000 to PR on the Map to support a team in Puerto Rico who are documenting the story of recovery and resistance. www.gofundme.com/reportreimaginerevive-puerto-rico
$1,210 to Clackamas County Veterans Village to buy tools to help build a transitional shelter community for veterans. www.clackamas.us/transitionalhousing