Category: Get Inspired

Good Night and Good Luck

If you’re reading this, it’s too late. At least for more Lady Collective posts, that is. I decided a few months ago that I wanted to wind things down, burn through my stack of queued up posts and interviews, and tie up loose ends. It’s not that I believe our work is done; we’re just getting started. But on a personal level, I wanted to branch out and explore other projects. As one human, the schedule and expectations can be exhausting and after a while, I felt locked in. I found myself craving more spaces to make things for no explicit reason.

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One of those spaces is currently called Omnivorous. I want an outlet where I can collect and curate content that I think rocks. At some point, I’ll start sprinkling my own work in there, but that will come with time. Ultimately, I miss creating for its own sake, without any deadlines or audience.

I’m not sure what comes next. Maybe I’ll do a newsletter; if that’s the case, folks currently on our mailing list will be the first to know. Maybe I’ll do more interviews with 99U. But whatever happens, know this: you are amazing. I am so grateful to our badass group of readers who made this project worth it even when the deadlines got tough. You’ve taught me so much: you challenged me, inspired me, and helped me realize that we are all responsible for shaping the world into the reality we wish to see. What will you create?

If there is a central takeaway that I hope you remember, it is that you are capable and you are enough. You have superpowers in side of you, regardless of what circumstance or society may lead you to believe. Unlock that shit. It is so difficult to tune out all the other noise, but make time to sit with yourself and ask the question: what do I want? Remain quiet and listen: the answer is waiting for you.

Book Review: Mardou’s Sky in Stereo

Last month, I received a great gift: a copy of Mardou’s new graphic novel, Sky in Stereo. Set in 1990s Manchester, England, the novel opens with protagonist Iris explaining how her mother became a Jehovah’s Witness. While her boyfriend remained indifferent, Iris’s mother fell hard for the community and lifestyle the church offered. Eventually, Iris joined, too, and her life revolved around Bible study and wholesome social activities. But as she got older, Iris watched as her female peers married and had kids immediately after high school. Not content to let this path be her fate, Iris rebelled against her mother and the church.

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Although she escapes the church, Iris’s post-high school life is anything but easy. She and her boyfriend, John, part ways as university pulls them in different directions. Iris takes a job at Burger Loco and meets Glen, an attractive free spirit with a dark side. Struggling to assert her independence while still living with her conservative parents, Iris’s search for freedom leads her on a psychedelic adventure around the city.

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Portions of the story could benefit from a bit more editing. Iris and John allude to some characters who never make an appearance; what is the purpose of including them? The introduction of Iris’s drug use seems abrupt; one minute, she’s mourning her breakup and then next, she’s stoned in a car. And why does Glen, her burger joint coworker, call her Eyeball? What drives him down a path to harder drugs? In addition to raising unanswered questions, parts of the story tend to ramble. Aspects of the story line, like Glen and Iris’s stroll through a cemetery, don’t push the narrative along and feel like afterthoughts.

In spite of these aspects, Mardou pens a compelling story that encourages readers to learn more. Anyone who survived puberty can identify with Iris’s confusion and frustration as she navigates  post-grad life and come into her own. When, in the end, Iris’s journey takes a worrisome turn, Mardou’s storytelling and illustrations elicit genuine concern from the reader. With volume two already out, I’m eager to see where Iris’s story leads.

Happy Birthday, Lady Collective: Year One

happy birthday LC

If you’re reading this post, you somehow connected with Lady Collective over the past 365 days and liked what you saw. It’s been a honor to see our readership grow, from our email list to our Twitter and Facebook followers. Whenever I receive notifications about new followers, it reminds me that I must be doing something right.

While part of me wants to unveil big plans for expansion in Year Two, I am actually prepared to do the opposite. In reality, it’s always been just me: writing the posts, researching the dames, promoting the pieces. I use “we” and “us” in the communal sense, but as I pen this post at my kitchen table, the whole office is right there. I have a whole morning routine centered around sending out email blasts and Buffering posts to Facebook and Twitter. My nights and weekends consist of researching Schoolin’ Life subjects, brainstorming post topics and responding to a mountain of email. And while some parts of the process were more enjoyable than others, I always felt a surge of pride whenever one of you commented, Tweeted, or posted one of my pieces. At the end of the day, I do

But I need my day to day to be a bit more about me. This month, I moved apartments and am poised to start a new job. I want to reconnect with my running team and slip back into a regular training cycle. I want to sleep more. And in order to achieve these goals, I need to be more selfish with my time. For this reason, the new Lady Collective schedule will be as follows:

  • Dame of the Day: Monday, Wednesday, Friday
  • Schoolin’ Life: Friday

While I entertained the idea of pausing Lady Collective altogether, I think this new schedule is both more manageable for my one-person operation and more centered on the most important aspect of the platform: you. There’s so much value in the interviews, both for the person answering the questions and the audience reading them. In an age where women crave positive mentors, the pieces serve as a reminder that there’s no wrong way to live your life. I’m proud to keep learning about other women’s lives while living a little more of mine.

Thank you for a wonderful year of conversations and encouragement. Onward and upward to Year Two!

Bike Life: Miss Fires in Manhattan

This past week, Hotswag left for Michigan in preparation for his sister’s wedding. He’s spending the week grilling all the foods, swimming in the lake, and (if luck serves him) fixing up his motorcycle for a ride back to New York. His late grandfather left him a Honda cafe racer and, with a little work, he aims to return it to fine working order. The idea of cruising through the Midwestern United States on a bike sounds glorious, and I wish him the best of luck.

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Image courtesy of the Miss Fires

I’m a nervous person, so city rides aren’t for me. While my enthusiasm for motorcycles wanes in inverse proportion to the population (just thinking about riding up First Avenue on a bike floods me with anxiety), there are plenty of badass women cruising urban streets. For the past 18 years, the Miss Fires have recruited women across NYC to share their love of bikes. How do you become a member? All you need is a bike and a valid motorcycle license. Women who are into mopeds, classic cars, and racing bikes are also encouraged to join.

In addition to gaining a new set of riding and drinking buddies, Miss Fires members expand their skill sets with workshops and out-of-city adventures. Recently, some members rode to Connecticut to practice trail riding at a certified clinic. No matter where they ride, the Miss Fires love sharing the stories behind their bikes. Some members have been around since the club’s inception while others are fresh on the scene; member Kristen Reed recently shared her own story in the documentary series Stories of Bike.

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Image courtesy of the Miss Fires

While I think I need to get more comfortable with biking NYC before I spring for a motorcycle of my own, I fully support the Miss Fires and their badass brand of biker sisterhood. Follow them on Facebook or check out their website for frequent updates. Ride on, ladies!

New Kid on the Block: Welcome, Broadly

Since their early inception, women’s magazines have dramatically evolved. Back in the day, publications like Family Circle or Woman’s Day peddled recipes, new products, and weigh loss regimes to stay at home moms. But over time, the magazine world woke up to the fact that, in addition to being a portal to the American family, women also have interests of their own. During the 90s resurgence of feminism, magazines like Jane, Bust, and Bitch burst onto the scene and shook up the Cosmopolitan status quo. While it’s unlikely that one publication can cater to everyone woman, the digital age ushered in more opportunities to reach a larger audience.

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Image courtesy of Christian Montone

Back in February, I caught wind of Vice’s new feminist media channel, Broadly, and I admit I was intrigued. I have a hit or miss relationship with Vice. Some of their reporting, like their presence in Baltimore after the murder of Freddie Gray, feels critical; their team explores stories that other major news outlets won’t touch. On the flip side, I tend to roll my eyes at some of their fluffier content; how many headlines that begin “I Took a Lot of Drugs at…” does one media outlet really need?

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Photo courtesy of WWD

However, I’m optimistic about Broadly because it’s perfectly positioned to go in on the women’s issues that make mainstream media uncomfortable. Nobody on CNN is talking about rape, abortion, or even vaginas in the abstract. With editor in chief Tracie Egan Morrissey at the helm, Broadly’s team aims to balance hard-hitting journalism with arts and culture reporting. Based on the channel’s trailer, they’ve already generated a decent body of work. Take a look at what’s new at Broadly and follow them on social media for future updates.

Get in the Game: Congrats, Jen Welter

We at Lady Collective love celebrating female firsts: the first women in space, the first women to enter the military, women winning the Nobel Prize and countless other awards. While it’s frustrating that, in 2015, women are still cracking into formerly male-dominated spaces, every tiny victory serves as an example of possibilities for the next generation.jen1Image courtesy of Patch.com

Today we celebrate Arizona Cardinals coach Jen Welter, the first woman to coach a National Football League team. Welter played rugby at Boston College,competed in women’s football leagues for 14 years, and became the first woman to play a non-kicking position to play in the Indoor Football League. Somehow during that time, she also earned a master’s in sports psychology and a doctorate in psychology. Coach Welter may be 5’2”, but she’s got lofty dreams and high expectations for her players.

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Image courtesy of AZ Central

But let’s be clear that the appointment comes with a caveat: on the Cardinals’ website, Welter’s official position is listed as “training camp/preseason intern coaching linebackers.” Depending on how her players fare, there’s no guarantee that she’ll hit the field come September. But while women coaches in male-dominated leagues are rare, there’s more support for future hires. Last month, San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon became the first woman to preside over an NBA bench. At any rate, we’ll be paying attention to Welter’s progress come kickoff time.

Art Beat: Trans-Meat

Jumping rope may seem like a universal activity, but each culture puts their own unique spin on the game. In photographer Maria Escudero’s native Ecuador, girls jumping rope shout out the many roles a woman can play in the course of her life: “monja, viuda, soltera, casada, enamorada, estudiante! (nun, widow, single, married, girlfriend, divorced, student!)” At surface level, the rhymes may seem simple, but they reveal a lot about gender roles and stereotypes.

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Image courtesy of Maria Escudero

Trans-Meat, a collaboration between Escudero and her artistic partner, Sam Brown, aims to question the rigidity of these roles. Dressed in drag, Brown appears shopping for Ritz crackers in a bodega, hawking meat in traffic, and frolicking in a playground. Each photograph draws from women’s traditional roles and asks the question: what does it mean to be an Ecuadorian woman? Are the boundaries that contain these roles rigid or fluid? What are the implications of a white, American, gender non-conforming man dressed in drag being photographed by a mestiza, Ecuadorian, heterosexual woman?

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Image courtesy of Maria Escudero

Over the course of the project, Escudero and Brown met with sex workers, local business owners, and Catholic grandmothers to learn about their perspectives and ask for permission to step into their worlds. The resulting images feel intimate to the point of intrusion. While the photographs snapped in public reveal a glimpse at onlookers’ feelings, the series that take place behind closed doors capture private and personal moments. The project’s title comes from the word “transmeate,” or “to cross over.” Its meaning goes beyond the literal interpretation of using drag to perform gender; the viewer is able to cross from the public to the private with the click of a shutter.

transmeat3Image courtesy of Maria Escudero

 

Escudero and Brown completed the initial collection in 2014, but this month the pair returned to Quito earlier this month to generate large format prints and exhibit them at Arte Actual. Congratulations!

Art Beat: New Work By Erin Morrissey

As you can tell from our masthead, us LC members go way back. With over ten years of friendship in the bank, we’ve watched as our work change and progress. Since she works in the arts, our girl Erin Morrissey generated a particularly amazing visual timeline over the past decade. For as long as we’ve known her, Erin has been drawing on a daily basis, experimenting with new techniques, and constantly pushing her work to the next level.

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Image courtesy of Erin Morrissey

We think Erin’s latest collection is particularly awesome because it’s such a departure from her usual style. While she’s a phenomenal artists capable of producing lifelike work, this new series is all about experimentation and abstraction. First, she creates a portrait sketch. Then, she painstakingly silkscreens the sketch onto a canvas, cleans up the lines, and creates a clean print. For those of you who haven’t silk screened before, the medium doesn’t necessarily lend itself to precise, clean lines. Creating a quality print requires patience, a good eye, and a steady hand.

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Image courtesy of Erin Morrissey

Once she pulls the print, Erin adds individual details by hand: a swatch of copper ink here, an additional flourish there. The final piece catches your eye, invite you to explore the details, and look great on any wall.

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Image courtesy of Erin Morrissey

Want an Erin Morrissey original? You’re in luck; she’s just launched her own shop and regularly posts new pieces. Take a look, snag a print, and share the link with a friend. Way to go, girl!

Hello, Pluto: The Women Behind New Horizons

Yesterday morning, the world woke up to witness a corner of the universe three billion miles away. Since the 1970s, the 200 member team behind the New Horizons mission has carefully prepared for this critical flyby moment. On Tuesday morning, NASA’s probe cruised within 8,000 whiles of Pluto, transmitting color photographs of the planet and its five moons back to Earth. When the team witnessed the images for the first time, they gasped and burst into thunderous applause.

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Image courtesy of Brit and Co. 

Who’s to thank for this incredible mission? As it turns out, a great number of women. Of the 200 staff members, 25% of them are women in STEM. We’ve noted in the past that historically, the path to women in space (and STEM in general) has not been an easy one. Perhaps what’s most refreshing is that, when asked how it feels to be part of a team with so many women, the answer was simply: normal. Deputy project scientist Kim Ennico confessed, “I’ve never really thought about it. I’m really only conscious of it when there are only women in a meeting room.”

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Image courtesy of The Atlantic

Excited to learn more? Don’t worry; the mission didn’t end on July 14. In fact, it’s just getting started. Because of its distance from Earth, the probe will continue to send new data for months to come. Check up on the New Horizons website for periodic updates and a glimpse of what’s in store when data collection ends.  You can also interact with other New Horizons fans on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy Birthday: Malala Yousafzai Celebrates With Syrian Schools

How did you mark your last birthday? Drinks with friends? Dinner with family? With a card, a cake, or maybe a gift or two? Birthdays are a great time to celebrate and reflect on where we’ve come from, where we’re at, and where we’re headed. On Sunday, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai turned 18 years old. How did she celebrate? She launched a school. Dissatisfied with the educational options available to female Syrian refugees, Malala used her self-titled non-profit to fund a school in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Situated close to the Syrian border, the school aims to help 200 Syrian girls obtain baccalaureate or vocational degrees.

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Image courtesy of NPR

If you’re not aware of Syria’s civil war, read up. After peaceful protests erupted during 2011’s Arab Spring, President Bashar al-Assad and his army responded with a wave of kidnapping, murder, rape, and torture. Over time, civilians began to fire back and the fighting escalated to a full-blown civil war. But it’s more complicated than that; due to Syria’s position within the Middle East, the country witnessed both an influx volunteers eager to free Syria from al-Assad and jihadists aiming to dismantle Syria’s secular government. But with an arsenal of chemical weapons and barrel bombs, Assad continues to hold his ground.

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Image courtesy of Ahmad Fatemi and Maria Rohaly

During this four year period, Syria’s economy crashed and conditions deteriorated as the government blocked foreign aid from entering the country. To date, 4.25 million Syrians have escaped to neighboring countries like Jordan and Lebanon. With no end to the fighting in sight, temporary camps now serve as permanent homes for the population. Acknowledging this reality, Turkish educator Enver Yucel recently pledged $10 million of his own money to set up schools in the country’s refugee camps. Yucel’s efforts are hotly contested in Turkey, where Syrians are viewed as competition for jobs and resources. But, as Yucel argues, there are far more consequences for allowing a generation of Syrians to languish without skills.

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Image courtesy of NPR

Malala’s campaign follows in the same vein but places additional focus on educating young women and girls. In a recent blog post, she coined the hashtag #booksnotbullets and argued that if the world’s nations ceased military spending for 8 days, the leftover $39 billion dollars could fund 12 years of free education for every child. Granted, not everyone has a book deal, a non-profit, or a far-reaching network like Malala. And it shouldn’t be assumed that a birthday celebration can’t be about you. But her actions provide some interesting food for thought for the coming year. What are you passionate about? What change do you want to make in the world? How can a birthday be a celebration of life as well as a way to contribute to something bigger than yourself? With my big 3-0 only six months away, I’ve got some thinking to do.