It seems fitting to launch the WECANN blog with a recollection of our beginnings, and a brief nod to what we’ve accomplished in the few short months we’ve been active.
Hannah Kimberley and I (Kimberlee Cloutier-Blazzard) first met while organizing the October 15, 2016 Women’s Equality Panel, co-hosted by the Sargent House Museum and local Cape Ann League of Women Voters. (The live-stream video of which is available via the link here.)
The panel was such a wonderful spur of discussion, it was clear that local women and men wanted to continue the conversation. The attendees, along with some of our friends and neighbors, were therefore invited to a follow-up meeting on November 15th, held at Hannah’s place. However, considering the election results of November 9th, we soon realized this would need to be a “Post-Election Decompression Session” rather than a celebration of women’s long-awaited ascendancy to the Oval Office.
That literal and figurative dark-and-stormy night, there were fewer than ten of us in attendance. Our little group bonded over our concerns for the apparent negative trajectory of women’s- and minorities’ rights and respect. The evening was a chance to share the overwhelming feelings of apprehension, sadness, fear and longing for answers. As a group, we decided to meet monthly, to chart a course and help each other through the next four years of the current administration.
In that gathering, and the next couple of meetings, we also came up concrete ways to keep positive focus and create change. We helped one member with an LGBT workplace harassment issue. We brainstormed some small, but important, initiatives that would help us to work for positive change. For example, we supported Period Partners, which supplied a year’s-worth of menstrual products to local charities. Over time, we collected donations for a NuDay Syria shipment to refugees. We sold WECANN logo shirts to donate $300 to the ACLU. One member had postcards printed for us to send to our governmental representatives–available for carrying either supportive or critical messages to them about their work. (No doubt many will be sent for the Ides of Trump, 3/15.)
To date, WECANN has represented at: Seth Moulton’s 6th district break-out event on 12/11; at MA Sexual Health Lobby Day at the State House on 1/31; as well as meetings of Cape Ann Local Action, Action Together North Shore, and others. Some of us attended Bystander Awareness Training through the “Facing our Future” series on Rocky Neck. We have been mentioned in the Gloucester Daily Times as well as on Good Morning Gloucester.
That original close group of fewer than a dozen is now joined by over 200 like-minded individuals in our Facebook group, and (so far) a regular, devoted band of about 30 who gather at our monthly meetings to share joys, concerns, and information–over refreshments–and buoy ourselves for the month ahead. We work together as a democracy, a true grassroots gathering, where all are welcome to propose initiatives for WECANN to act upon. We are in this for the long haul, learning and growing as we go.
If you haven’t attended a meeting yet, I encourage you to join our private Facebook group and/or join our email list and experience our community firsthand. Together with our local sister organizations we are working for equality, social justice, and fair treatment for all. We welcome intersectional feminists of any age, gender, orientation or background. Remember: #ShePersisted