Everyday Women Doing Extraordinary Things for the Planet, by Gloria Feldt

Reflections on the 2010 SEE JANE DO conference by Gloria Feldt

About Gloria: People Magazine calls Gloria Feldt “the voice of experience.” A teen mother from rural Texas, Gloria served as president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the nation’s largest reproductive health and advocacy organization, from 1996-2005. Her passion for bettering women’s lives remains her driving force as an independent commentator on women’s issues, politics, media, and leadership. Gloria teaches “Women, Power, and Leadership” at Arizona State University and serves on the board of the Women’s Media Center. Her previous books include the New York Times bestseller Send Yourself Roses, co-authored with actress Kathleen Turner, Behind Every Choice Is a Story, and The War on Choice.

On a snowy day in Grass Valley, California, 250 women packed the Holiday Inn Express conference room, the only place in the Northern California town of ten thousand large enough to hold such a crowd. Even in good weather, it would have seemed remarkable for so many bright-eyed activists from a sprawling rural area to spend a full day in a cramped meeting room discussing what they were “going to do about it.”

The “it” was each individual attendee’s passion. I’d been invited to speak about “Sister Courage” at this first See Jane Do Passion Into Action conference, organized that winter day in 2010 by Jesse Locks and Elisa Parker, a dynamic duo of young women who created the hub for activism and social change called See Jane Do. But I ended up learning more than I imparted. It was an eye-popping experience.

First of all, the attendees were unusually involved and evolved activists for a variety of environmental, health, and women’s causes. Second, See Jane Do’s unique multimedia platform holds exciting promise as a new model for civic engagement and leadership in today’s fast-paced, fragmented world. Its usefulness in rural areas, where women may be less able or inclined to participate in traditional organizations, is especially encouraging.

But See Jane Do isn’t about networking for networking’s sake, nor is it just a clever social media technique for more chatter with little substance. Parker said she had decided her time for making excuses was over when her five-year-old daughter asked: “Mom, why are we killing the earth?” The only real way she figured she could answer the question was to do something about it.

The women at See Jane Do are employing every medium in order to make the changes they wish to see in the world.

What media are you most likely to get your information from? To communicate with others? What percent of your time is spent with social media versus traditional media such as newspapers and television?

What goals would you like to accomplish? What media might you use to do it and to let the world know you’re doing it? How can you be the media?

Gloria’s links

The 9 Ways Blog (where this post originally appeared)

Gloria’s new book: No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power

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