Poised For Power 📚

We do our homework, we are overqualified for the current cultural conversations...so why don't we feel that our voice matters? The Poised for Power book list will refresh your logic knowledge, pry out the thoughts floating in your mind and ignite the fighter within you. Read along with us and embody your principles with the guidance of Deborah J. Bennett, Anne Lamott, and Toni Morrison. 

Fairer Stronger 📚

Fairer Stronger 📚

I am angry. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change. But I am also hopeful, because I believe deeply in the ability of human beings to remake themselves for the better.” 
― Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieWe Should All Be Feminists

Striving toward equality requires compassion, tolerance, and openness  Fairer Stronger explores the injustices that exist today and sheds light on how the underrepresented have ended up in their present situations. As you read or listen to these books continuously ask yourself "is this what normal should be?" "is this fair?" "can we do better?" and "what behaviors can I remake to bring positive change?"
 

Who we are learning from:

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
We Should All Be Feminists

In this personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah, offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

Michelle Alexander
The New Jim Crow

Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as "brave and bold," this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a "call to action."

Nancy Isenberg
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America  

“Formidable and truth-dealing . . . necessary.” —The New York Times

“This eye-opening investigation into our country’s entrenched social hierarchy is acutely relevant.” —O Magazine

In her ground breaking bestselling history of the class system in America, Nancy Isenberg upends history as we know it by taking on our comforting myths about equality and uncovering the crucial legacy of the ever-present, always embarrassing—if occasionally entertaining—poor white trash.

What means the world to you? 📓

What means the world to you? 📓

What do we do now: 

Most of you who have spoke up in recent weeks have expressed thoughts along the lines of: “what do I do now?” “how can I better understand different perspectives?” and “the holidays are going to be fucking terrible.”

If there is one thing we’ve learned, it’s that securing your own point of view is important. As someone who has been non-confrontational (read: passive agressive) her whole life, I can no longer keep the knowledge and perspectives I’ve experienced to myself. If there is anything this election has taught us it’s that we can’t afford to not speak up. 

So what do you believe in? We’ve found a simple but difficult exercise to help us explicitly define just that. The goal is to bring some extra awareness to your core values so we can form a vocabulary around them. This will come in handy when having Very Difficult Conversations. 

You’ll need these: http://inkfeet.in/valuescards

It is strongly suggested that you complete each step before reading ahead to the next.

1. Organize each of the values in the .pdf (you can add some of your own, too) into three categories: “Very Important to me,” “Important to me,” and “Not Important to me.” 
Review your choices and make sure everything seems right to you. 

Note: you can print and cut the cards out to work in physical space or just use them as a guide and work digitally. Whatever is easiest. 

When you finish this, go on to part two.

2.Take the values listed in “Important to me,” and “Not Important to me.” and move them aside. Repeat the first exercise for only the cards listed in “Very Important to me,”...sorting them into the three categories. 

If you’re thinking “shit”–you’re doing it right. When everything looks about right to you, go to step three.

3. Yep. We’re doing it again. Take the values listed in “Important to me,” and “Not Important to me.” and move them aside. Repeat the exercise for the cards listed in “Very Important to me.”

(Basically, keep doing this until you only have 5 values in the “Very Important to me,” column.)

4.Record and date your values. We’ll come back to them. 

Let's see where this takes us.

Started for a reason, now we are here: the state of Notes on Women 📢

Started for a reason, now we are here: the state of Notes on Women 📢

Notes on Women was created from the need for a safe space to celebrate other women. The idea is that learning from others who have stood up and shared their story encourages us to expand our own. It is and has always been about dialogue, education, and action.

On a micro level, it’s reading books, sharing playlists, expressing thought and giving each other advice in a safe space.

On a macro level, it’s gaining awareness, reaching out to one another to create movement, and having the courage to speak truth to power.

So what are we doing now? We’re going to continue to challenge ourselves and support all humans in need both in this community and outside of it. 

1. We are gathering as many resources as we can to inform you of other groups that support similar missions, groups that are actively seeking volunteers and we’ll even be organizing opportunities to give back together. 

2. We are creating a directory of women-owned businesses should you choose to put power behind your dollar, for the holidays and beyond. 

3. We’re meeting—reach out if you are interested in getting involved.

Let's continue to empower. You're all remarkable.

Down Deeper 🎧

Down Deeper 🎧

"These tracks have that little ounce of excitement and grounding in them, affirming confidence and adding a little pep to the metaphorical step...Yes, Justin Bieber, too."

Down Deeper 📚

Down Deeper 📚

"The minute I use a poem or read a poem, people's attention moves, almost physiologically, down deeper in their body" - Joanna Macy, translator of Rainer Maria Rilke

Back to work, back to school, back to shorter days and busier schedules. Down Deeper is about remembering to create space to be kind to ourselves as we transition from summer to autumn, to cherish the beauty of the changing seasons, and to find moments of power and stillness from these poets.

Who we are learning from

Nayyirah Waheed
salt

Nayyirah Waheed's collection of poetry explores the realities of multiple identities, language, diasporic life, the self, community, healing, celebration, and love. Nayyirah is a US-based writer who has gone from strength to strength; her ability to express and articulate emotions and experiences in just a few words is unrivaled. There are poems which haunt, like ‘Immigrant’; ‘you broke the ocean in half to be here. only to meet nothing that wants you’ and there are those which possess the reader with drowning emotion: ‘she asked “you are in love, what does love look like” to which i replied “like everything I’ve ever lost come back to me.” 

Her poems deliver a powerful punch in a fashion so gentle that it can best be described as empowerment through art; you will read every poem at least 3 times and wonder how a few lines have the ability to dismantle you in minutes, only to find that all of a sudden you are stronger than ever before.

 

mary oliver
new and selected poems, volume one

Poet Mary Oliver is an “indefatigable guide to the natural world,” wrote Maxine Kumin in the Women’s Review of Books, “particularly to its lesser-known aspects.” Oliver’s verse focuses on the quiet of occurrences of nature. Her perceptive, brilliantly crafted poems about the natural landscape and the fundamental questions of life and death “stand quite comfortably on the margins of things, on the line between earth and sky, the thin membrane that separates human from what we loosely call animal.” "Do you love this world?" she interrupts a poem about peonies to ask the reader. "Do you cherish your humble and silky life?" She makes us see the extraordinary in our everyday lives, how something as common as light can be "an invitation/to happiness,/and that happiness,/when it's done right,/is a kind of holiness,/palpable and redemptive." When New and Selected Poems, Volume One was originally published in 1992, Mary Oliver was awarded the National Book Award and critic Alicia Ostriker numbered Oliver among America’s finest poets, as “visionary as [Ralph Waldo] Emerson.”

 

Naomi shihab nye
words under the words: selected poems

Growing up, the poet Naomi Shihab Nye lived in Ferguson, Missouri and on the road between Ramallah and Jerusalem. Her father was a refugee Palestinian journalist, and through her poetry, she carries forward his hopeful passion, his insistence, that language must be a way out of cycles of animosity. Nye gives voice to her experience as an Arab-American through poems about heritage and peace that overflow with a humanitarian spirit. About her work, the poet William Stafford has said, “her poems combine transcendent liveliness and sparkle along with warmth and human insight. She is a champion of the literature of encouragement and heart. Reading her work enhances life.”

 

Right Here 📚

 "Find out who you are and do it on purpose" — Dolly Parton

 

Who We Are Learning From

LINDA WEST
SHRILL

Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible--like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you--writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but. 

From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.

With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss, and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.

Roxane Gay
Bad Feminist

In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman of color while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years and commenting on the state of feminism today. The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better.

Julie Murphy
Dumplin'

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Serious Pleasure 📚

Knowing you have the ability to stand your ground is one thing but knowing what you're willing to defend is another. Let's dive into this next chapter of proudly proclaiming what pleases us, reminding ourselves of our joie de vivre.

 

Who We Are Learning From

Shonda Rhimes
Year of Yes

This poignant, intimate, and hilarious memoir explores Shonda’s life before her Year of Yes—from her nerdy, book-loving childhood creating imaginary friends to her devotion to creating television characters who reflected the world she saw around her (like Cristina Yang, whose ultimate goal wasn’t marriage, and Cyrus Beene, who is a Republican and gay). And it chronicles her life after her Year of Yes had begun—when Shonda forced herself out of the house and onto the stage, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and giving the Dartmouth Commencement speech; when she learned to say yes to her health, yes to play and she stepped out of the shadows and into the sun; when she learned to explore, empower, applaud, and love her truest self. Yes. 

 

Gabrielle Hamilton
Blood, Bones & Butter

Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family—the result of a prickly marriage that nonetheless yields lasting dividends. By turns epic and intimate, Gabrielle Hamilton’s story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.

 

Helen MacDonald
H Is for Hawk

An Amazon Best Book of the Month for March 2015: When naturalist and falconer Helen Macdonald lost her beloved father, she “thought [her] world was ending.” Seems apropos, then, that her journey from crippling grief to something resembling grace is on the wings of another deadly bird of prey--the notoriously prickly, and murderous, goshawk. In H Is for Hawk, you will meet Mabel, not your typical bloodthirsty specimen, as she is trained to hunt like the goshawks of yore. It is this brash, slightly mad undertaking that wrenches Macdonald free from despair, and brings her to a place where she can begin again. Doesn’t sound like your kind of thing? You’d be surprised. Macdonald’s gorgeously wrought prose holds you in thrall from the first page, and provides something akin to the escape, and salvation, that nature provides her. In ‘Hawk’ you will also learn about the famed Arthurian novelist T.H. White, a kindred soul to Macdonald in certain ways. One of the things that endeared him to her was his “childish delight” with all things wild, something you’ll be hard-pressed not to experience as soon as you tap into this tome. –Erin Kodicek

Standing Ground 🎧

Standing Ground 🎧

This month's playlist mirrors the theme of standing your ground. Each of the songs here have something to do with staying true to yourself. While mercury is in retrograde, and while everything around you may be chaotic and disorganized, your metaphorical feet are firmly planted and your fists are clenched, prepared for whatever fight must come your way. The trials and tribulations of 2015 are behind you, and 2016 brings with it both excitement and anxiety for the unknown. All you can do is rely on what you know to be true: yourself.

Each of these songs was picked with something specific in mind. Perhaps you "care" too much, or you're feeling "lovesick" and trying to maintain true to your core. Maybe you're trying to commit to the idea that "whatcha see is whatcha get" and in doing so, you feel naturally high as fuck. At the end of the day, you're "alive" and it's a magical and blissful thing.

https://open.spotify.com/user/notesonwomen/playlist/5l3EvhrmLdyhUe4ni356LB

Standing Ground 📚

Standing Ground 📚

Everybody is back to work, anxious to get projects running again. We’re fighting to keep our shit together. Standing Ground is about sticking to your foundation: being direct, succinct and clear while everybody else runs around with their fucking heads cut off. 

 

Who we’re learning from:


Brené Brown

Rising Strong

The physics of vulnerability is simple: If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall. The author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection tells us what it takes to get back up, and how owning our stories of disappointment, failure, and heartbreak gives us the power to write a daring new ending. Struggle, Brené Brown writes, can be our greatest call to courage, and rising strong our clearest path to deeper meaning, wisdom, and hope. 


Amy Hempel

The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel

Amy Hempel is a master of the short story. This celebrated volume gathers together her complete work -- four short collections of stunning stories about marriages, minor disasters, and moments of revelation. 

With her inimitable compassion and wit, Hempel introduces characters who make choices that seem inevitable, and whose longings and misgivings evoke eternal human experience. 

For readers who have known Hempel's work for decades and for those who are just discovering her, this indispensable volume contains all the stories in Reasons to Live, At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom, Tumble Home, and The Dog of the Marriage. No reader of great writing should be without it.

 

Catherine Opie

Catherine Opie (born 1961 in Sandusky, Ohio) is an American fine-art photographer. She studies the relationships between mainstream and infrequent society, specializing in portraiture, studio, and landscape photography. Through photography Opie documents the connections between the individual and the space inhabited. She lives and works in West Adams, Los Angeles. She is well known for her work of portraits exploring the Los Angeles leather-dyke community. Opie is currently a professor of photography at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

https://youtu.be/i4kIyomCrYM
http://www.vice.com/read/catherine-opie-934-v16n7
http://web.guggenheim.org/exhibitions/opie/exhibition.html

Yin Yang Workshop 🙌🏽

Yin Yang Workshop 🙌🏽

How can I find a balance so I can better serve relationships, MYSELF and even my work? These are questions I am constantly asking and are in constant flux as once again we revisit the notion that nothing exists in and of itself. I find that when I am practicing both Yin and Yang in my life and take note, an internal balance arise. As Carl Jung notes, "in all disorder there is a secret order, in all chaos there are cosmos."

Face First 🎧

Face First 🎧

Hi lovely ladies! The theme for this month as you know is Face First. Deanna asked me to start off the playlist on spotify with some tracks that might embody this theme. I wasn't sure at first but quickly realized that for me (and Deanna), face first really means firey as FUCK. The tracks on the playlist so far have a certain feel to them. Like you don't have to explain anything, especially why you like a song, and the energy comes through in each of these tracks. You're diving into life and the situations you encounter on a day to day head first, face first, bull horns out, ready to fuck shit up in the best (or worst) way possible.

Whether it's lyrically or sonically, this month is about "not being obliged to swallow anything you despise" as The Shins so elegantly put it in Sleeping Lessons. 

Have fun kittens and add songs! x

https://open.spotify.com/…/…/playlist/2nSsb6pX5JdeKCh0DHxy1I

Face First 📚

Face First 📚

err... you are all fearless. i'm sure i'm not alone in saying that Sunday brought the most open, honest, and straightforward conversations i've had as a group in maybe my entire life.

it takes restraint to not put 10 books based on our conversations in the list for this month. i originally thought we'd want some nostalgic and community based reads considering the season but you are all so fired up!

We're going face first into December. Here are the books:

I Love Dick - Chris Kraus
Tart, brazen and funny... a cautionary tale, I Love Dick raises disturbing but compelling questions about female social behavior, power, control.
( The Nation)

King Kong Theory - Virginie Despentes
the feminist provocateur examines key questions of sexuality, male and female roles, and her own awakening to action. Having been raped at 17, and served as unwilling confidante to many women since Baise-Moi's publication, Despentes struggles mightily with a society that taught her, as a woman, not to fight back against a man attempting to rape her "when that same society has taught me that this is a crime from which I will never recover."

The Argonauts - Maggie Nelson
''Maggie Nelson slays entrenched notions of gender, marriage, and sexuality with lyricism, intellectual brass, and soul-ringing honesty.'' --Vanity Fair

Her Girl Friday: The New Era of Civil Rights Journalism 🙌🏽

Her Girl Friday: The New Era of Civil Rights Journalism 🙌🏽

Recap by Katherine McMahan

On Thursday I attended a panel on The New Era of Civil Rights journalism hosted by the group Her Girl Friday. In their words, Her Girl Friday is a Brooklyn-based group that produces engaging events with good vibes and concrete takeaways for (and featuring!) women in journalism and non-fiction storytelling. Kindred spirits.

The Panelist:

Sarah Hoye, Al Jazeera America
Nikole Hannah-Jones, The New York Times Magazine
Juliet Linderman, The AP
Yamiche Alcindor, USA Today

I got there about 2 minutes before the panel started, leaving me just enough time to grab a seat just before it was standing room only. The event began with a presentation from Madeleine Bair of WITNESS, a Brooklyn-based non-profit dedicated to empowering people around the world to use video as a tool for change. Bair focused on the role of citizen journalism and experience of the person who decides to stop and record police brutality.

She spoke about a specific case where a woman, Kianga Mwamba, stopped her car to record the police kicking a handcuffed man who was sitting on the ground. The situation escalated, she was eventually arrested and spent the night in jail only to find out that the video and pictures she captured had been deleted from her phone. Luckily, she backed up to the cloud. Due to the video and photo evidence, the charges against her were dropped and she is now suing the city of Baltimore. What would have happened if she didn’t have a nightly back up?

After the ordeal, Mwamba says that now she would not stop and record the violence because of the aftermath.

Bair then highlighted some of the tools that WITNESS can provide both the citizen journalists and the journalists that use their footage. Tips on keeping your identity safe, how to properly credit a citizen journalist, and ways to encourage others to keep taking a stand. Here is more info on the Mwamba case and others like it.

From there, Her Girl Friday took us into the panel discussion. Moderated by Pearl Gabel, a freelance photojournalist, the group discussed race, relationships with sources, working with all male crews, and how to break into a newsroom.

Not thinking ahead, I did not take any notes. Everything below is highlights of questions and from my perspective.


What is it like to drop into a city and have to cover a story like Ferguson? 

To be honest, they didn’t really answer this question. Most of the stories that they cover require diving into a community and building lasting relationships, which these reporters do with skill. Ferguson, Trayvon Martin, and others were local stories first before they got national coverage.

How do you deal with the emotional strain of covering such stories? 

  • You have to have a network of people you can talk to. 
  • Netflix.
  • People that you love who are willing to reach out when you don’t. 
  • They all accepted that they would have a break down at some point, it was just a question of when and if they had build up a network to support them.

How do you deal with newsrooms turning your story away because “nothing bad happened”? This was presented in the context of an audience member who had covered a #BlackLivesMatter Conference in Cleveland, Ohio and could not find a paper to publish her story or images.

  • Pictures of conferences aren’t interesting it makes it harder to push that through.
  • That story might not get published but you’re building a foundation. Now, when there is another conference or when something else happens, you have a different angle than other reporters because you have the context of this conference.
  • You have to convince the editor that your story is better than anything else they could publish. Think about the story you present to them? It’s like a teenager asking Mom and Dad to borrow the car. You have to have all of the answers ready without hesitation. What time will you be back? Who is going? Why are you going? Will there be an adult? Who is meeting you there? You miss one answer you don’t get the car. Your story won’t get published.

How do you deal with people telling you to “man up”? This was also a question from the audience. A reporter was covering a story where a pregnant woman was crushed by a falling branch. When going through a photoalbum with the family, the reporter came across a sonogram and gasped. A male member of the crew told her to never do that again and “man up”.

It’s important to show genuine emotion, if that’s how you reacted that’s fine. It’s also important not to overreact and make it about yourself. This is their story, their pain, you’re telling it.

  • Journalists must keep their humanity.
  • Be careful of the line between a source and you as a journalist. You must show humanity but you must also be clear that what they tell you is on the record.
  • Showing emotion isn’t weak it’s connecting with your story. It’s natural. Just do not make it about yourself.
  • Every member of the panel had experienced someone telling them to “man up”, “grow a pair”, or even “grow a dick”.

 

Unfortunately, I had to leave the panel before all of the questions from the audience could be answered and was unable to ask my question. I was interested to hear how technology has changed the way they think of covering a story. The New York Times Magazine just published The Displaced, a story about children who have been displaced because of war that has a powerful VR component. How does that play into Civil Rights and citizen journalism? Is there an opportunity to put more people in the shoes of someone being brutalized by police and empower them to stand up? What does this mean for the future of Civil Rights Activism?

I digress. Overall, I think this was a good event but this is a complex topic that needs more time to really dive in. I look forward to seeing what Her Girl Friday does in the future and hope that this discussion doesn’t end here.

 

 

 

Observing Feeling 📚

Observing Feeling 📚

We notice things. But how often do we take the time to process these thoughts before jumping to the next? Our three books this month are real accounts of reflection by women determined to express their frustration and triumphs in order to inspire others.


persepolis

Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Year of Magical Thinking

From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion. Joan Didion explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage--and a life, in good times and bad--that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.

Men Explain Things To Me

"The terrain has always felt familiar, but Men Explain Things To Me is a tool that we all need in order to find something that was almost lost."—National Post

In her comic, scathing essay, "Men Explain Things to Me," Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don't, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters.