The 2011 MN NOW State Conference, in photos

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:

It was a day with friends old and new, of connecting Facebook friends with actual faces, of networking, learning, and fun!  Including….

CAKE!  You can’t celebrate 40 years without cake, can you??

To see even more pictures, and to make friends with all of these folks and MANY more, please check out our fan page on Facebook:

Here’s to 40 more years of Moving Equality Forward!

Nancy Gruver: author, publisher, feminist mom, and conference speaker

Minnesota NOW is thrilled to welcome Nancy Gruver, founder and publisher of New Moon Girl Media, to our 40th Anniversary Conference.

Gruver and her husband, Joe Kelly, founded New Moon Girls magazine in 1992 to provide a place where girls like their twin daughters, Nia and Mavis, could bridge childhood and adolescence with confidence and intelligence.  As Gruver told the website Care2, “The media that was available to girls then, is much like it is now…  it’s full of ads that are designed to make girls feel they’re lacking in some ways and that they need to buy something to fix that. And New Moon doesn’t have that. New Moon is about girls telling the world who they are, rather than the media telling girls who they should be.”

On this year’s Equal Pay Day, April 12, an 11-year-old nicknamed Veda Blueberry wrote a blog post for New Moon Girls on the subject, telling her readers: “It’s hard to believe that in 2011, a woman makes less than a man just because she’s a…girl.”  (we can’t believe it, either, Veda.)  “[creating content for New Moon] is very powerful for the girls,” Gruver told Care2. “They’re doing it, and to them, that’s the way it ought to be, which I like a lot! They think ‘I should be able to say what I think about the oil spill in the Gulf, or the war in Afghanistan, or who my favorite celebrity singer is. I should be able to be interested in all these things. I don’t have to be the stereotype of a tweeny bopper.'”

Gruver is also author of the book How to Say It to Girls: Communicating With Your Growing Daughter and runs the parenting blog  She’ll talk with us about the genesis of New Moon, what working with girls has taught her, and how parents and others can support the next generation of activists–the ones who will be Moving Equality Forward in the next century and beyond!

Register for the conference here:

SPECIAL OFFER: Minnesota NOW fans receive a discount on new subscriptions by clicking here:

Rep. Tim Walz, our afternoon conference speaker

Minnesota NOW is proud to welcome NOW member and our state’s First District Representative Tim Walz to speak at our 40th Anniversary State Conference.

Rep. Walz has represented the 1st District since 2006.  A retired Command Sergeant Major in the Army National Guard, Rep. Walz is the highest ranking enlisted soldier ever to serve in Congress.  As such, his voice was an impassioned, reasoned, and absolutely essential one in the battle to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a policy Rep. Walz called “discriminatory” in this clip from the House floor:

Rep. Walz has been a steadfast vote for civil rights in Congress, including his vote in February against an amendment that would ban all federal funding from Planned Parenthood.  He’s also cast votes in support of the DREAM Act, expanding hate crime legislation to include gender identity, ensuring health care for children, and the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  We’re thrilled to hear from Rep. Walz about how we all can Move Equality Forward for the next 40 years and beyond!


Katie Stack, 2011 State Conference Speaker

Minnesota NOW is thrilled to welcome Katie Stack to our 40th anniversary conference.

Katie Stack, center, with Minnesota NOW members and friends in the State Capitol Rotunda at 2011 Pro-Choice Lobby Day.

Katie Stack is a graduate student in Gender & Women’s Studies who is a vocal supporter of reproductive freedom.  In December 2010, she appeared on the MTV documentary “No Easy Decision” and spoke with Dr. Drew Pinsky about choosing abortion when confronted with an unintended pregnancy.  The special was created in part to respond to MTV’s hit programs “16 & Pregnant” and “Teen Mom.”  As Pinsky says in his introduction to his interview, “having an abortion is not uncommon–but talking about it publicly really is.”

Since appearing on the program, Stack has remained a public voice for abortion rights.  Her blog,, is popular with both pro-choice activists and anti-abortion folks, the latter arriving in droves with the intention of shaming Stack for being truthful about her experiences–but Stack’s ready for them, with wisdom that belies her young age.  As she wrote:

“…..abortion is deeply personal, but not necessarily because of the act of abortion itself. For me, the fear and confusion that I felt about the procedure, and the silence that followed, had nothing to do with the act of abortion. It had everything to do with the stigma associated with women who chose to abort. I was well aware that by making this decision I would come to embody a very violent political and social debate. Who wouldn’t be apprehensive about that?”

On March 28, 2011, Stack was awarded the Jan Yanehiro Speak Out for Choice Award from NARAL Pro-Choice America.  Her remarks from the awards ceremony can be viewed below.

Minnesota NOW members and friends are excited to hear from Katie Stack about how we call can Move Equality Forward!


Sen. Al Franken, our first conference speaker

The first speaker at our Moving Equality Forward Conference, at the bright & early hour of 8 am, is Senator Al Franken.

From left: Minnesota NOW President Shannon Drury, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Executive Vice President-Action of National NOW Erin Matson,  and Sen. Franken.

It’s entirely appropriate to lead off our conference with Sen. Franken, for he’s been a vocal supporter of equality and women’s rights throughout his career.  Sen. Franken reached out to Minnesota NOW early in his campaign for our insight on feminist federal legislations–the only candidate for Senate to do so.  Since taking office, Sen. Franken has put his commitment to equality into action.

  • Voted for the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”
  • Co-sponsored legislation that prohibits federal contractors from requiring employees who are victims of sexual assaults to seek justice through arbitation, not criminal court
  • Sponsored the Justice for Sexual Assault Survivors Act of 2009, to address the backlog of untested DNA rape kits and to ensure victims are not financially responsible for the kits
  • Voted against the Stupak Amendment to health care reform, accusing Re. Stupak of “[using] the health care bill as a bludgeon, restricting women’s health choices in a bill that was meant to expand them.”
  • Announced in April that he’s developing a bill that will address anti-LGBT bullying in schools, stating: “the evidence is that gay kids are bullied a lot and that their achievement goes down. There’s a lot of absenteeism and even suicide.”

We at Minnesota NOW welcome Sen. Franken’s thoughts on how we can work together to MOVE EQUALITY FORWARD!

To register: