As a writer by profession, words rarely fail me, yet here I am, grasping for how to summarize one of the best weekends in recent memory. That should give you an idea of how inspiring, thought-provoking, and uproarious Minnesota NOW’s 40th anniversary conference was! I’ll have to let these photos speak for me. All were taken by our Legislative Coordinator Jessica Trites Rolle.
The opening address was delivered by Sen. Al Franken (as we at MN NOW like to say, “first on the agenda, first in our hearts!”). Sen. Franken reiterated his commitment to fighting for equality in the Senate.
Katie Stack, star of MTV’s “No Easy Decision,” talked about her participation in the show, and how the experience transformed her from a mild-mannered college student to a reproductive rights crusader!
At a panel on intergenerational feminism, Ami Wazlawik wisely rejected a 3rd, 4th or 5th Wave label and advised all to call her “AWESOME” instead. Gloria Steinem and Rebecca Walker could not be reached for comment.
It was my great honor to present Barbra Peterson with the award for 2011 Feminist of the Year. Our Vice President is a tireless champion for equality, whether she’s hobnobbing with Senators or delivering calves on her farm in rural Sandstone.
It was also a pleasure to recognize Mary Ann Gaspar, the beating heart of Minnesota NOW, for her nearly 15 years as our Office Coordinator. Gina Schedivy, the conference organizer, holds the Charlotte Streibel Long Distance Runner Award, given to those who have demonstrated long term commitment to feminist action. Mary Ann’s work is behind the scenes, often unlauded or unrecognized, but without her we’re nothing!
After lunch, we heard from Minnesota’s First District Representative, Tim Walz. When his daughter, Hope, was born in 2001, Rep. Walz became a member of NOW as an investment in her future. His speech was so inspiring, in fact, that the conference’s southern MN contingent decided it was high time that Mankato had its own NOW chapter. Watch for your invite in the mail, Hope!
Speaking of girls, Nancy Gruver knows ‘em. The founder and editor of New Moon Girls, she reminded us that the simple act of saying “it’s not fair!” can be the beginning of a girl’s feminist consciousness. After her talk, I purchase a discounted subscription to the magazine for a very dear 11-year-old friend via this link: http://www.newmoon.com/offer/?code=MNNOW
CAKE! You can’t celebrate 40 years without cake, can you??
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Here’s to 40 more years of Moving Equality Forward!