Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What Next?

Many have begun asking what happens after we have stood together in May. What should we do next?

Our hope is that the very act of gathering and standing together in silence will inspire and energize all of us to take actions that will help realize our dream of a better world for our children, grandchildren and the seven generations beyond them.

The most important ideas for what comes next will come from you. We hope that in the discussions that follow your standing, you will develop ideas to share with all of us. We are in the process of creating a page on the StandingWomen site that will allow all of you to offer suggestions, tell us about existing organizations and efforts, and that will permit connecting links to occur by areas of interest.

We have great power to shape the world to achieve our dreams. Individuals, in deciding how to spend their time and where to donate their money, can have an enormous impact on the world. For example, students from a school in the Bronx, P.S. 52, made up of some of the poorest kids in the area, after seeing the water scarcity in a UN video hosted by rap star JayZ, got together their pennies, dimes and nickels and raised over $2,000 to send to the most drought affected villages.

In many countries we, as individuals, through how we cast our votes, can help our elected officials come to see that they are the guardians of our children's and grandchildren's future and that every decision they make should be made within this context.

In this internet age, we also can band together collectively. We suggest that you look at the work of these existing groups that already bring women together internationally to change the world:

Gather the Women

Women's Intercultural Network

The Millionth Circle

Circle Connections
Peace X Peace

UNIFEM www.unifem/org

For U.S. women, we also recommend

Mothers Acting Up

U.S. Women Connect

Moms Rising

Stand Up and Vote ONE: The campaign to Make Poverty History is a coalition of over 2.4 million supporters and over 100 of the nation's most well-known and respected non-profit, advocacy and humanitarian organizations. ONE is a new effort by Americans to rally Americans--ONE by ONE--to fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty. ONE is students and ministers, punk rockers and NASCAR moms, Americans of all beliefs and backgrounds, united as ONE to help make poverty history.

In our work, we can be guided by quotes from Margaret Mead and Helen Keller:

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does." Margaret Mead

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do." Helen Keller

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Wonderful Note from Sharon Mehdi, author of Great Silent Grandmother Gathering

Sharon Mehdi, the author of The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering, sent us this wonderful note that follows. We share it here with her permission. She also sent us the superb poem by Margaret Robison that follows Sharon's note. We share it her with Margaret's permission.

I want to tell you a story.

Last summer during the Lebanon-Israeli altercation, a handful of us started standing every morning from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. in our beloved Lithia Park here in Ashland. We continued standing until November. Three months. Seven days a week. No matter what the weather. It was hard. Our backs hurt and our bones ached.

As summer turned to fall and the mornings got colder, we wore layer upon layer to try to keep warm. Sometimes there were four or five of us, sometimes 18 or 20. At the end of our stand each day, we joined hands in a circle and sang: "Peace is flowing like a river/ flowing out from you and me/flowing out into the desert/setting all the people free."

On a grand and global scale, what we did was insignificant. But it was what we could do and we were committed to it. Like the wonderful Helen Keller quote: "I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do."

Perhaps it didn't transform the world, but it transformed us. Our local newspapers ran front page stories about us. Ours is a tourist town and visitors took pictures of us standing. No signs, no banners. Just standing. Sometimes they joined us. And sometimes they emailed friends back home. One woman from your own state of Ohio wrote that she lived on a farm and didn't have a park or a group of women to stand with, so every morning she stood in her cornfield. She said she pretended all the cornstalks were women standing with her. She wanted us to know she was doing what she could.

You Ohio women have put so much energy and creativity and hard work into the invitation to others of us, around the world, to stand on May 13th. Your sincerity spoke to my heart. That is the magic. Women from the heartland, inviting others to stand at a certain moment on a certain day to save the world. The word is spreading. Friend to friend. You are empowering women all over to find their own way, their own park, their own cornfield.

The glory of your dream is that it is not organized. It is spontaneous and it is holy.

Love, Sharon

To Save the World by Margaret Robison
I sit still in my wheelchair
With my back straight, my head erect.
I breathe in the warm air of the room.
Out my window light from the full moon Shines on the dark water.
I breathe the warm air out.
This house is quiet tonight.
I too am quiet.
I breathe the warm air in.
On the mountain across the river a train passes
Howling its plaintive howl.
I breathe the warm air out.
The night is silent once again.
Light from the full moon shines on the dark water.
What did I do to save the world today?
I watched no news on TV.
I walked in no protest demonstrations.
I wrote no letters to Senators or Representatives.
I sat very still in my wheelchair a long time.
I held my back straight and my head erect.
I breathed in the warm air of this room.
I breathed out the warm air of my body.
And all the time,
I was smiling.