Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mixing Fun and Philanthropy

So, I went to Bar Nine last night for two reasons--
1. Proceeds went to Girls Write Now
2. I thought Simon would like to hear Lucy Wainwright Roche so you know, it was all about mixing in some good fun with my philanthropy.

Given that I had spent all day working on budgets (June 30th being the end of many non profit's fiscal years, including mine) I thought this was a great idea.

The bar turned out to be packed and very few folks seemed to care much about either NY Tyrant or Girls Write Now. When Lucy started singing a cappela, I thought it would calm down but no, people continued talking, drinking and whooping it up, as if someone were not trying to perform folksy-type music in front of them.

Everyone except the 7 of us (6 from Girls Write Now and 1 who has a cartoon in the new NY Tyrant) who smiled encouragingly as she sang, by herself with only her guitar to help her. She got us to sing along to her version of Hungry Heart, which I did, not that it made any difference above the din.

She called out to us-- "Who are you guys-- you know the ones who are listening?" and we yelled back "Girls Write Now" which was kind of fun, and she said she'd come chat with us after two more songs. It was lovely to meet her and I now big pink puffy heart her. Mostly though, I felt bad for her having to sweat it out up there for 7 friendly folks out of a sea of a hundred or more party-goers. I don't think it was a good time for her at all.

The experiences raises some thoughts for me on mixing fun and philanthropy. Bar nights for non profits are considered to be a good way to appeal to a younger donor who might not give through other ways. The prevailing idea is that young adults are going to pay a cover anyway, so why shouldn't it go to a non profit?

To make this strategy work, non profit organizers should consider the following:

1) Fit of venue to activity (folk singing and Saturday night bar crowd might not have been the best fit)
2 Promotion at the door (Everyone should have to pay the cover-- if you think people won't pay the cover-- go back to step 1, maybe this crowd is not the best for your event)
3) Emcee the event (Let people know who is benefitting from the event
Opportunities to sign people up for the mailing list)

And while I am at it, drink tickets for the non profit benefitting from the event wouldn't hurt, but I may be biased...

Have you run a great Bar Night? Add your comments.....

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Celebrate All Women's Issue of NY Tyrant with Girls Write Now

Party for Girls Write Now on Saturday. WOO HOO!

Celebrate the all-women issue of the New York Tyrant on Saturday June 28th, featuring a female artist and a female-fronted band, with a portion of the proceeds going to Girls Write Now , which all WGFG readers should know is a nonprofit devoted to encouraging NYC public school girls to develop as writers.

Saturday, June 28th, 9 pm
Bar Nine
807 Ninth Avenue, between 53rd and 54th Streets
C,E to 50th Street; NRQW to 57th Street

A $10 cover includes a copy of the latest issue, featuring work from:
S.G. Miller, Cezarija Abartis, Leni Zumas, Paula Bomer, Jessica Anya Blau, Nadxieli Mannello, Rachel B. Glaser, Elizabeth Koch, Leigh Newman, and Deb Olin Unferth, among others.

10 pm: Lucy Wainwright Roche
Lucy Wainwright Roche grew up in Greenwich Village, New York City. She is the daughter of two performing musicians, Loudon Wainwright and Suzzy Roche (The Roches). Her childhood was spent living out of a suitcase, either on the road, with her parents or being ferried around to different relatives in her big musical clan. Described by The New York Times as having the best qualities of both her parents and a voice "clear as a bell", Lucy is a refreshing, pure, alternative to the jive pop culture, alarmingly straightforward and unadorned. In the past year Lucy has toured the US doing solo shows and opening for many musicians from Dar Williams to her brother Rufus. In 2007 Lucy released her first recording, an EP entitled "8 Songs", and in the spring of 2008 she released her second EP, "8 More".

11 pm: The Choke
NYC's punk 'n' roll darlings The Choke filter the influences of 60s Motown, soul, and garage rock through the attack of 70s anthemic punk. Since its debut in May of 2005, the band has already performed for large audiences throughout New York and London, toured with the UK's legendary Buzzcocks, enjoyed regular rotation and performed a live set on WFMU 91.1 FM (NYC/NJ), performed for a special NYC Animal Rescue Benefit opening for The Beastie Boys, completed 2 UK Tours, and also 2 US tours of the Midwest. Punk Magazine has called them "One of the most explosive and original acts to hit these parts in years". The Choke is currently in the midst of finishing a full-length album with producer Tony Barber (bass player/producer of Buzzcocks).

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Girls Write Now:
GWN provides at-risk New York City high school girls with emerging writing talent an opportunity to be custom-matched with a professional woman writer who serves as her personal mentor and writing coach, meeting with her weekly for the duration of an entire school year, and for up to four years. Founded in 1998, GWN was the first organization to ever present this combination of powerful services, and it continues to be the only program of its kind in the eastern United States.

We believe in the power and urgency of the story and the story's ability to describe and illuminate the interior and exterior landscape: we believe in the power of narrative and its ability to make life more astonishingly alive.
New York Tyrant

Friday, June 20, 2008

3rd NYS Day to End CSEC

Today is the Third Annual New York State Day to End Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. Make a stand against the exploitation and trafficking of children:

11 AM Rally at City Hall
6:30 PM Youth survivor panel
7:30 PM Screening of Very Young Girls (all deets in a prior post).

Also-- check the Editorial in this morning's New York Times Help for Exploited Children

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sex and the City Revisited

Nikki from Give Me Space to Rock pointed me to this articlee in Venus Zine Sex and the Purse Pumps and Penthouse as a follow up to my SATC post.

In the article, Nona tackles the issue of race in this paragraph:

Perhaps the most unnerving storyline of all is that of Carrie’s personal assistant, Louise (Jennifer Hudson). Clearly the point was to throw in a woman of color, but unfortunately the only one in sight is at the beck and call of an emotionally distraught white woman, resulting in one of the most blatant Mammy figures since Queen Latifah in that Steve Martin movie. Louise coos, jokes, and nurses Carrie back to health, all the while never receiving any of Carrie’s writing expertise in return. In the end, all she really gets is a Louis Vuitton bag as a souvenir before she heads for St. Louis to marry the nice black boy she left behind.

Also-- gets a sense of what others are saying across the country at GirlDRive

Go Nona Go!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Screening of Very Young Girls this Friday June 20th

This Friday GEMS is hosting a special screening (before it airs on Showtime) of Very Young Girls, with a Survivor Led Panel discussion on domestic trafficking/commercial sexual exploitation of children

Free tickets available, RSVP to or 212 926 8089 extension 56

Screening of VERY YOUNG GIRLS & Youth Leadership Panel

6:30 Panel/7:30 Screening

In partnership with the Fordham Institute for Women and Girls*,GEMS will host a special screening of the SHOWTIME/Swinging T documentary VERY YOUNG GIRLS. This documentary highlights the experiences of the girls that GEMS serves. This compelling film provides an opportunity to hear the girls' tell their own stories in their own words.

Join us at 7:30pm at the Fordham Graduate School of Social Service.
FREE TICKETS available: or 212 926 8089 ext 56

Come early at 6:30pm and hear directly from the members of GEMS as they discuss their leadership role in the movement to end CSEC. All attendees will receive a copy of GEMS White Paper on Youth Leadership in the Movement to End Commercial Sexual Exploitation, funded generously by the Ms.Foundation

Fordham University
113 W. 60th Street @ Columbus Avenue
Pope Auditorium, 1st Floor

GEMS will also host a Rally at City Hall Park from 11am-12pm on June 20th!
Stand with us in the fight to END Commercial Sexual Exploitation of children!

For additional questions contact:

Girls Educational and Mentoring Services'(GEMS) mission is to empower young women, ages 12-21, who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking to exit the commercial sex industry and develop to their full potential. GEMS is committed to ending commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of children by changing individual lives, transforming public perception, and revolutionizing the systems and policies that impact sexually exploited youth.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Net Neutrality

SOOOOOOOOO, I had a long discussion with my husband over beer this week about the blocking of child porn sites and in return I got an earful on net neutrality.

hmmmmm. So he says the comparison with ISP's and websites (if I have all of this right) is like the phone company and phone calls, do you want the phone company blocking content of phone calls?

Good question. So perhaps the libertarian vitriol as gotten to me. However, if folks have opinions I would love to hear them.

I'll be light on posting for a few days, as I am out of town for my grandmother's memorial's service. Lots to say when I come back!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Child Porn Sites Blocked!

Glad I took a quick glance at the New York Times while working on a grant this morning to find out:

Three internet providers have agreed to block access to web sites and bulletin board to child pornography

Now lets all brace ourselves for the First Amendment arguments and libertarian vitiol.

SO, what about the boys?

How about this?

Monday, June 09, 2008

I am.....Girls Write Now

If you missed Sunday's Girls Write Now Annual Spring Reading, you missed A LOT!!! Amanda Diva was an incredible guest speaker, our emcee Penny Wright was delightful and the girls' writing was on fire! I was shocked by their honesty, candidness, and their sophistcated points of view. Congratulations girls on another great year! And lucky for you, you can still get a glimpse into the magic of our work with our new video I am Girls Write Now....

Are you Girls Write Now? You can be! Find out more about how to get involved, pick of our anthology to become a part of our community by donating at Girls Write Now

Many thanks to Kathleen Sweeney, author of Maiden USA: Girl Icons Come of Age and Advisory Board Member for her vision, commitment and hard work to make the video!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

The First Woman I Voted For

Today I write a long post about a topic I've been thinking about for a long time, which frames my point of view in the work I do with women and girls. I hope readers will endulge me in such a long post and comment on The Answer...--Patti

Hillary Clinton acknowledged yesterday that she changed the landscape of politics forever by running for office, but also that the barriers and biases around gender and race still persist. As I log on to my laptop to read the commentaries and editorials this morning, I keep clicking to articles pointing out how landmark, how historical both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s campaigns are, discussing the difference they will make over time, how significant their runs are.

While we are sighing and expressing our gratitude to Hillary and Obama, I am wondering --how significant are their campaigns? Have they changed things forever? I’m thrilled to live in a time where these are my choices in my party. But still I wonder, does a single female candidate, or a single black male candidate, even running at the same time, change things forever about what we as a country think a woman or a black person can do? What is it that changes prejudice and breaks down barriers? How will we get from one single viable female candidate or black candidate (or can you immagine, a black female candidate!?) to ballots filled with people of different races, ethnicities and gender identifications?

A trip to Baltimore last week got me thinking about the first black woman I ever voted for, Susanne Gray Rice. When she ran for office, she was minus the "Rice" and we were both teenage girls at the time. Together with Truemenda Green, they ran for class president and vice president of our senior class at Western Senior High School. Over 20 years later and much to Susanne’s amusement I reminded her over crab cakes that she ran with the slogan "Gray and Green: The Colors of Success."

But I do remember it clearly, and as I think about it, having the opportunity to vote for a team of two black female candidates in high school was significant for me as white teenage girl growing into a white adult woman. What seemed normal and natural to me, voting for two black females in high school probably didn’t to many of peers across the country who never got the opportunity. And in this way, I do think that Hillary’s long run through all the primaries was worth it, and was landmark, because she provided the opportunity for so many people to drop the lever for a female presidential candidate. As was Obama’s for the opportunity to drop the lever for a black presidential candidate.

As significant as this is, I don’t think it’s enough to change things forever. I was 13 when Geraldine Ferraro’s made her historic run for Vice President and Reverend Jackson’s his run for President in 1984. There was this notion then, that they were opening the doors for women and minorities everywhere, the floodgates are open, the political landscape has changed forever. Optimism overflowed and at 13, I was certainly inspired. But the floodgates didn’t really open. And now here we are 24 years later talking about the historical significance of Hillary and Obama’s run for office. And yes, Obama does have the nomination, and that makes it different this time. But we also heard quotes from voters about how they can’t vote for Obama because he might be a Muslim and comments far worse. So, perhaps it’s the Gen X pessimist in me that has heard all this “significance stuff” before, what is really changing right now?

How do we move from the concepts of equality to as Hillary Clinton stated “an America that respects and embraces the potential of every last one of us”? A glimpse back to high school reminds me that I had more than the opportunity to vote for a black candidate in high school, I had the experience of seeing and knowing black females as leaders, as scholars, as individuals.

As a graduate of Western Senior High School's class of 1989, I attended a prestigious, rigorous high school which was also one of two of the country's all girls' public high schools. In the late 80's the majority of the students at Western were either black/African American, which meant I was surrounded everyday by smart black girls as classmates. This does not mean that all of my friends were black girls or that we lived in some kind of Sesame Street racial harmony. To the contrary, as a first year high school student, I quickly found a group of friends of whom the majority were white. But it did mean that in class and on graduation day, I saw black girls doing well, succeeding across all kinds of coursework, with multiple interests, living against the stereotypes on television, every school day for four years. The girls I knew weren't a white girl's side kick (Hello Dionne in Clueless!) or the token black girl at a private school (Tootie in Facts of Life, anyone?) or any other TV stereotype. In my world in high school, they were the lead in the play, the winner of the Latin Scholar Award, my team mates on the JV volleyball team, lab partners in chemistry, the girls I sat next to on graduation day, and yes, class president. As a result, it’s not a big ol’ surprise to me to see women and people of color in positions of power and authority. I don’t think I am free of prejudices—I am of the school that it’s impossible to be without them. But I do think that my real life experiences give me the basis to challenge my prejudice when it arises.

We live in a country still segregated in many places, with racism and sexism clearly alive and while, and where the barriers, whether concrete or glass, are still real. I know that my personal experiences as a racial minority as a white person was part of the anecdote to prejudice for me, it’s clearly impractical to suggest it is The Answer for everyone.

What is The Answer? I admit I don’t know it; people far smarter than I am are working on it. But I do know, that we must be vigilant in finding it, that we must watch how long this sigh of gratitude stretches, how significant we make two individual candidacies, and focus with intention on fighting racism and sexism head on. We should not get too caught up in the glow of the race and the gender of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In 24 more years, I’ll be 61 and I hope I’ll be writing an article on how we used this time to turn the tide on racism and sexism, not reminiscing about the choices we once had.

(Susanne Gray Rice pictured above is now a guidance counselor at Western, triathlete, mother, and all around inspiration-- Go Lady Doves!)

Beat the Heat with Girls Write Now and Amanda Diva

Come join me at my favorite Girls Write Now event of the year, the Spring Reading at the New Tribeca Barnes & Noble on Sunday, June 8 from 4-6PM.

Meet and hear New York City's most talented teen female writers, along with celebrity host Amanda Diva (Def Poetry Jam, HipHopNation, MTV2, Floetry), as they read their original works from the theme Becoming Women. Pick up the anthology (our largest ever), a t-shirt from SIC (Smart is Cool!), and buys some summer reading material, and proceeds will go to Girls Write Now. As always, you can skip the loot and make a donation.

Barnes and Noble is located at 97 Warren Street in Tribeca, New York, NY 10007

(Complete disclosure-- I'm Board Chair of Girls Write Now, so I'm heavily biased about their awesomeness and deeply committed to their success. Come out on Sunday and you'll see why!)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sex and The City Revisited

Nikki from Give Me Space to Rock pointed me to this articlee in Venus Zine Sex and the Purse Pumps and Penthouse as a follow up to my SATC post.

In the article, Nona tackles the issue of race in this paragraph:

Perhaps the most unnerving storyline of all is that of Carrie’s personal assistant, Louise (Jennifer Hudson). Clearly the point was to throw in a woman of color, but unfortunately the only one in sight is at the beck and call of an emotionally distraught white woman, resulting in one of the most blatant Mammy figures since Queen Latifah in that Steve Martin movie. Louise coos, jokes, and nurses Carrie back to health, all the while never receiving any of Carrie’s writing expertise in return. In the end, all she really gets is a Louis Vuitton bag as a souvenir before she heads for St. Louis to marry the nice black boy she left behind.

Also-- gets a sense of what others are saying across the country at GirlDRive

Go Nona Go!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Womens Studies Conference focuses on Girls Culture

Hi everyone! I love when Women's Studies focuses on Girls' Studies!

(H/T to my friends at the Willie Mae Rock Camp)

Submission Deadline: Thursday, June 12, 2008
The 18th Annual Women's Studies Conference
"Girls' Culture & Girls' Studies: Surviving, Reviving, Celebrating Girlhood"

To be held on the campus of Southern Connecticut State University Friday and Saturday, October 17 and 18, 2008

The 18th Annual Women's Studies Conference at Southern Connecticut State University
explores girlhood. What does it mean to be a girl? Who defines girlhood in an age when puberty and sexualization are happening at younger ages? How do girls assert their own identity in an increasingly medicated and consumerist culture which targets girls as a prime audience?
Why are U.S. girls preoccupied with perfection? What challenges do girls across races, classes, religions,nations, and cultures face in an ever more globalized world? What is the relationship between girls and feminism? What effect can feminism have on constructions of boyhood and masculinity and how in turn can this affect girls?

In the 18th annual SCSU Women's Studies conference, we will take a close look at girls' culture and girls' studies, among the most vibrant areas in women's
studies. The Conference Committee invites individuals, groups, scholars, feminists,
activists,girls and all to submit proposals that address topics related to all aspects of girlhood.

Proposal Format: Faculty, students, staff, administrators, community activists from all disciplines and fields are invited to submit proposals for individual papers, complete sessions,panels, or round tables. Poster sessions, performance pieces, video recordings, and other creative works are also encouraged.

For individual papers, please submit a one-page abstract. For complete panels, submit a one-page abstract for each presentation plus an overview on the
relationship among individual components. For the poster sessions and art work, submit a one-page overview. All proposals must include speakers' name(s), affiliation(s), and contact information(address, E-mail, and telephone number). Please also indicate preference for Friday afternoon, Saturday morning, or Saturday afternoon; all attempts will be made to honor schedule requests.

Panels: Each 75 minute session usually includes three presenters and a session moderator, but individual presenters may request an entire session for a more substantial paper or presentation.
Presenters are encouraged, though not required, to form their own panels. The conference committee will group individual proposals into panels and assign a moderator. Please indicate inyour contact information if you are willing to serve as a moderator.

Posters, Art Displays, and Slide Presentations: A poster presentation consists of an exhibit of materials that report research activities or informational resources in visual and summary form.
An art display consists of a depiction of feminist concerns in an artistic medium. Both types of presentations provide a unique platform that facilitates personal discussion of work with interested colleagues and allows meeting attendees to browse through highlights of current research. Please indicate in your proposal your anticipated needs in terms of space, etc.

In keeping with the conference theme, suggested topics include but are not limited to:
Girls and Pop Culture
Construction of Girlhood
Media and Girls' Culture
Girls & Cutting/Self-Mutilation
Politics of Girls' Studies
Girls & Leadership
Women's Studies & Girls' Studies
Girls & Child Labor
Race & Class in Girls' Studies
Girls & Performance
Coming of Age Globally
Gender Research & Girls
Body Image and Girls
Girls & Disabilities
Girls & Sexuality
Girls & Ink.
Human Trafficking & Girls
Girls & Religion
Indigenous Women and Girls
Human Rights of Girls
Girls & Sports
Chick Lit
Girls & Resistance
Globalization and Girlhood
Race, Ethnicity, and Class in Girls' Studies
Construction of "Tween" Agers/Girls
Violence against Girls & Women
Girls and Gangs
Girl Power and Politics
Transnational Adoption of Girls
Girls' Studies in Academe
Girl Power and Feminism/Anti-Feminism
Growing up Incarcerated
Girls and Grassroots Activism
Girls across/between Worlds
Parenting/Raising Girls
American Girls and Beyond
Girls as Parents
Reviving Ophelia, Surviving Ophelia, Resisting Ophelia
Representations of Girls

We also invite your ideas and suggestions. Conference sessions will juxtapose cultural, generational, and geopolitical perspectives in order to construct feminist renditions of girls' cultures, histories, and representations. Expect fun through meals, performance, and poetry slam, with girls and their allies speaking of their struggles and power.

Please submit proposals and supporting materials to:

Women's Studies Conference Committee
Women's Studies Program, EN B 229
Southern Connecticut State University
501 Crescent Street
New Haven, CT 06515

Or via email to: with attention to Conference Committee. If you have any questions, please call the Women's Studies office at (203) 392-6133.

The Annual Women's Studies Conference at SCSU is self-supporting; all presenters can
pre-register at the discounted presenter's fee, not exceeding $110.00 for both days, $60.00 for one day. The fee includes all costs for supporting materials, entrance to keynote events, and all meals and beverage breaks.

Submission Deadline:
Postmarked by Thursday, June 12, 2008

Notification of Committee Decision:
Mailed by Friday, July 18, 2008

Sex and the City and the Teenaged Girl

I may be one of very few women in New York City who does not care about the Sex and the City movie opening. When pressed to rate my interest in seeing the movie on a scale of 1 to 100, I gave it a 13, meaning maybe I will watch it on cable when I'm home sick from work and everything else on tv requires concentration. Of course, I have watched the series on HBO, but without the intensity and interest that I have watched The Wire. If there were a movie about The Wire, I'd be there.

All of the media hype around the event just shows how very alone I am as women and girls across a spectrum of ages line up for tickets. Friday's Wall Street Journal article focused on the movie's appeal to teens who missed SATC on HBO, but have been watching a watered down version on TBS and want to go see the R rated movie, but are too young. Shelley Zalis CEO of a consumer research firm is quoted in the article "Sixteen is the new 20" despite the fact that the characters are now pushing 40 and even 50.

Teens in the article mention ordering the series up for marathons on HBO on Demand and debating which character they are most like. This makes a lot of sense to me-- given that most teens "aspire up," that is, they spend a lot of time thinking/fantasizing about what life will be as adults. With all the freedom and disposable income the women on SATC seem to have, they make easy fantasy figures. And with the emphasis on sex and relationships, the show can satisfy some natural teen curiosities.

Still though, I wonder, what it's like to be a 16 year old where the life you fantasize about is also the one that your 50 year old mother and neighbor dream about too, especially when most of the content is so materialistic. It's not SATC that is the problem, but the notion that both 16 and 50 can be the new 20 is permeating the rest of the culture. These are the trends that when multiplied across media and its sister marketing rob girls of their girlhood. Should 16 year olds and 50 year olds really aspire to the same things? And how does this play out in terms of each demographics expectations of what adulthood should look like? To me, this is what leads to women in their early 20's using anti wrinkling cream as a preventative tool, and women in their 50's using botox, so that the notion of what it means to look like a woman becomes more and more stereotypical.

And this doesn't event begin to touch that this is all based on white ideals of femininity or that the 20-something character added to the movie is black..another post perhaps?

Huff Post dialogue between a 50-something British Mom and her 20-something daughter on expectations for young women