08 December 2018

A hole in the wall for social change

By Kate Cunningham

Kate Cunningham is a first-year journalism student at Emerson College from Charlotte, North Carolina. She went to high school at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts for ballet as a part of their boarding high school program. She is happiest when she is in nature, creating, writing, and spending time with those that she loves.

This is Kate's story after attending WomenExplore Fall lecture 2018 on " How to sustain momentum while working for change" featured Tim McCarthy and Paula Chandoha on November 15, 2018. 


Hands were stiff from the bitter cold air of Cambridge on Nov. 15th. My nose was pink and my eyes squinted against the harsh breeze as I searched for The Democracy Center. I was supposed to be there minutes ago, but I had yet to find it. I was so concerned I was going to have to walk in late and I didn’t know what to do. It’s safe to say that I was ecstatic when I finally came across the sign reading “Struggles, Strengths, and Strategies.” 

I walked into the warm building and turned to my right to be welcomed by a friendly face. I explained that I was a journalism student from Emerson College doing a report on the lecture. The woman who greeted me was eager to get me a seat positioned so I had a perfect view. I hadn’t had anything to worry about. 

Glancing around the room, I was surrounded by predominantly older women. There were a few men and a few students, including myself. People were eating their homemade snacks and lunches. Half-full coffee cups rested next to most people’s chairs and almost everyone in the room had notebooks out taking notes for the sole purpose of learning. 

I was by far the youngest person in the room, and it was inspiring. As someone who has spent their entire life living in the South, it is indescribably refreshing to be in a room with members of older generations that are still trying to make changes in favor of marginalized groups and to educate the public on the whole. They have never given up. When the idea that the older you get the more conservative you get came into the conversation, there was a significant group of older women who had a good chuckle about how inaccurate it was for them. 

Paula Chandoha kick-started the event by speaking about her personal experiences with change. She said she was eager to talk about “how much I hate change and how much I like momentum.” 

She talked about was a time that her family bought a goat named April that she hated. She was upset with her family’s decision, but many years later she was able to reflect and realize she didn’t actually hate the goat, rather she hated the change the goat brought in her life. It was a big change that her younger-self felt threatened by because of the unknown surrounding it; she could not control how it affected her. 

The story of the goat is a fun, extraneous example, but one that many can relate to. Many people have experienced a dislike for something largely because it brought about big changes in their life. They may not realize it in the moment, but eventually, it is possible to come to terms with the fact that it was the unfamiliarity that made you dislike the something so greatly. 

As a journalism major, reading the news is a big part of my curriculum. It is so important to not only stay informed but to also be familiar with the theory and tactics currently being used. Exposure is a momentous part of learning about journalism. With the current political state, however, reading the news thoroughly every day can be detrimental to your mentality. 

Chandoha talks about change being a “willingness to stay conscious,” but she admits even she needs help with it. She said, “I go to therapy, I read poetry, I look out the window.” All of those things help her stay clear-minded amidst “the chaos of change.” During that chaos though, she advised the audience to “stay informed”, noting that she has had “to learn to not get saturated in it.” It is about finding a balance of being exposed to the current struggles and successes of our world, but doing so in a manner that is beneficial to you. 

Chandoha stopped mid-sentence when she realized it was 12 p.m. and her time was up. The audience laughed with her before she finished her thought and redirected the attention to Tim McCarthy. 

The love that the group had for McCarthy left me with a huge smile on my face. While being introduced, he was labeled as one of their “favorite favorite people.” He said “I think this is my tenth time coming to you… I live across the street. It would be hard to say no.” The audience joined him with more laughter. At this point, the energy in the room was radiating and enticing. I was on the edge of my seat, alert for what may come next. 

Upon hearing about my pitch, my professor encouraged me to think about the irony of a middle-aged white man being an influential speaker in the women’s rights movement. It had crossed my mind, but I did not question it once I heard McCarthy speak. From the hour, or so, that I heard his words, I can understand how he has the ability to impact a variety of people from middle-school-aged boys to traditionalists and baby boomers. He comes from a place of genuine care and concern for protecting the under protected of our nation and world. 

McCarthy shared five points: tell your story, understand the issue and “find your squad,” provide solidarity, embrace people who could become allies, and pay it forward.

He elaborated on how to tell our stories and urged us to ask questions to find the meaning of our stories. When sharing your story, McCarthy stressed the importance of answering “why?”, when saying, “We all have an answer to the why question and if we don’t, then we have to find the capacity to develop it. The “why” answer is what instigates action. I love this idea for a couple of reasons. It promotes self-reflection, growth, and physical change.” 

Personally, I am a very curious person. I like to ask people questions that make them think, I like reading, and I like to learn about new things. When writing, a tactic I use is to read my argument and continue to ask questions that develop it more. It is like squeezing out a towel that has been soaked in water. You keep twisting it up until there is nothing left to give. With this being said, the next idea resonated with me immensely. 

By asking “why?”, you learn whether you have that answer or not. From there, you either compose of your answer and begin to develop it, or you learn what you need to do in order to get to a place where you can answer it. If you know that you have the answer, then you are able to dig deeper into the meaning behind your story. If you don’t, then you learn to grow and get to a place where you can. Either way, both instigate self-awareness of your personal understanding, physical growth in your story, and both result in tangible changes.

McCarthy also said that “often we talk about the movement part” which is what makes changes, but the social part is necessary. I have thought about this tremendously since hearing him say it the first time, especially because I often preach the phrase “live by example.” In order for feelings, passions, and thoughts to be truly genuine, they must come solely from within. When you live by example, you are able to show someone why you feel and think what you do without making them feel like you are preaching to them. 

The word “movement” comes after “social” in the phrase “social movement”, something that is also true in the process of a social movement. People have to be exposed and educated on new ideologies before they feel inclined to instigate action. So, while the movement part is what creates the actual change, it all starts with socializing in a subtle manner. McCarthy reminded the group that, “The momentum doesn’t need to go from a trickle to a tsunami.” Big social movements take time. While that can be frustrating or discouraging, it is a good reminder to hear from someone creating change in his day-to-day life. 

One of my favorite moments of the lecture was when McCarthy recalled a conversation with his mother where she said, “I don’t think I will live to see the first woman president.” He commented on the depth of seriousness in her voice— she was not exaggerating. He brought this point up to stress the importance of being a part of a movement, not for yourself, but for future generations. He made note that, “For those of us involved in long-term work, we can’t be motivated by a complete result.” It can be discouraging to not see a tangible change in your lifetime, but often times, the hardest part is starting. By initiating change and conversation, you create momentum for future generations.  
As for solidarity, McCarthy said that momentum starts there, but is not sustained there. Providing solidarity to someone, or a group creates allies. McCarthy looked at Chandoha before saying that he cannot understand her struggles being a female, but he can “commit to recognizing the injustices and discrimination” that she faces. Addressing the situations where one offers solidarity to a group that they do not personally identify with, McCarthy said with a passion of past experience that, “those are the moments that test your solidarity… when you’re not getting a trophy for the group you are showing up for.” Again, he reiterated the idea that genuine care for the justice of underrepresented people has to come from internal desires. 

I was not entirely sure what this lecture would be like, so when I left buzzing with excitement, adrenaline, and inspiration— I was thrilled. 

After the lecture, Lindsa Vallee, a consistent presence at WomenExplore and the person who introduced both Chandoha and McCarthy, said that the organization’s goal is to expand the horizons of individuals and create an “open and vibrant” environment.
After each lecture, anyone who wants to help plan for future meetings can stay and participate after any lecture. Vallee said the organizers are all equal and everyone is welcome.
Community members like Lindsa Vallee and influencers like Timothy McCarthy have helped to initiate conversations in a range of communities. WomenExplore is one of the many places in Boston giving a space for voices to be heard and things to be learned and acts as a catalyst for Vallee and McCarthy to do their work.


20 September 2018

The Beijing Declaration

Fourth World Conference on Women
Beijing Declaration

  1. We, the Governments participating in the Fourth World Conference on Women,
  2. Gathered here in Beijing in September 1995, the year of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations,
  3. Determined to advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity, 
  4. Acknowledging the voices of all women everywhere and taking note of the diversity of women and their roles and circumstances, honoring the women who paved the way and inspired by the hope present in the world's youth,
  5. Recognize that the status of women has advanced in some important respects in the past decade but that progress has been uneven, inequalities between women and men have persisted and major obstacles remain, with serious consequences for the well-being of all people,
  6. Also recognize that this situation is exacerbated by the increasing poverty that is affecting the lives of the majority of the world's people, in particular women and children, with origins in both the national and international domains,
  7. Dedicate ourselves unreservedly to addressing these constraints and obstacles and thus enhancing further the advancement and empowerment of women all over the world, and agree that this requires urgent action in the spirit of determination, hope, cooperation and solidarity, now and to carry us forward into the next century.

    We reaffirm our commitment to:
  8. The equal rights and inherent human dignity of women and men and other purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments, in particular the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and the Declaration on the Right to Development;
  9. Ensure the full implementation of the human rights of women and of the girl child as an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of all human rights and fundamental freedoms;
  10. Build on consensus and progress made at previous United Nations conferences and summits - on women in Nairobi in 1985, on children in New York in 1990, on environment and development in Rio de Janeiro in1992, on human rights in Vienna in 1993, on population and development in Cairo in 1994 and on social development in Copenhagen in 1995 with the objective of achieving equality, development and peace;
  11. Achieve the full and effective implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women;
  12. The empowerment and advancement of women, including the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief, thus contributing to the moral,ethical, spiritual and intellectual needs of women and men, individually or in community with others and thereby guaranteeing them the possibility of realizing their full potential in society and shaping their lives in accordance with their own aspirations.

    We are convinced that:
  13. Women's empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, including participation in the decision-making process and access to power, are fundamental for the achievement of equality, development and peace;
  14. Women's rights are human rights;
  15. Equal rights, opportunities and access to resources, equal sharing of responsibilities for the family by men and women, and a harmonious partnership between them are critical to their well-being and that of their families as well as to the consolidation of democracy;
  16. Eradication of poverty based on sustained economic growth, social development, environmental protection and social justice requirestheinvolvement of women in economic and social development, equal opportunities and the full and equal participation of women and men as agents and beneficiaries of people-centred sustainable development;
  17. The explicit recognition and reaffirmation of the right of all women to control all aspects of their health, in particular their own fertility, is basic to their empowerment;
  18. Local, national, regional and global peace is attainable and is inextricably linked with the advancement of women, who are a fundamental force for leadership, conflict resolution and the promotion of lasting peace at all levels;
  19. It is essential to design, implement and monitor, with the full participation of women, effective, efficient and mutually reinforcing gender-sensitive policies and programmes, including development policies and programmes, at all levels that will foster the empowerment and advancement of women;
  20. The participation and contribution of all actors of civil society, particularly women's groups and networks and other non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations, with full respect for their autonomy, in cooperation with Governments, are important to theeffectiveimplementation and follow-up of the Platform for Action;
  21. The implementation of the Platform for Action requires commitment from Governments and the international community. By making national and international commitments for action, including those made at the Conference, Governments and the international community recognize the need to take priority action for the empowerment and advancement of women.

    We are determined to:
  22. Intensify efforts and actions to achieve the goals of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women by the end of this century;
  23. Ensure the full enjoyment by women and the girl child of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and take effective action against violations of these rights and freedoms;
  24. Take all necessary measures to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and the girl child and remove all obstacles to gender equality and the advancement and empowerment of women;
  25. Encourage men to participate fully in all actions towards equality;
  26. Promote women's economic independence, including employment,and eradicate the persistent and increasing burden of poverty on women by addressing the structural causes of poverty through changes uneconomic, ensuring equal access for all women, including those in rural areas, as vital development agents, to productive resources, opportunities and public services; 
  27. Promote people-centred sustainable development, including sustained economic growth, through the provision of basic education, life-long education, literacy and training, and primary health care for girls and women;
  28. Take positive steps to ensure peace for the advancement of women and,recognizing the leading role that women have played in the peace movement,work actively towards general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control, and support negotiations on the conclusion, without delay, of a universal and multilaterally and effectively verifiable comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty which contributes to nuclear disarmament and the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons in all its aspects;
  29. Prevent and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls;
  30. Ensure equal access to and equal treatment of women and men in education and health care and enhance women's sexual and reproductive health as well as education;
  31. Promote and protect all human rights of women and girls;
  32. Intensify efforts to ensure equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all women and girls who face multiple barriers to their empowerment and advancement because of such factors as their race, age, language, ethnicity, culture, religion, or disability, or because they are indigenous people;
  33. Ensure respect for international law, including humanitarian law, in order to protect women and girls in particular;
  34. Develop the fullest potential of girls and women of all ages, ensure their full and equal participation in building a better world for all and enhance their role in the development process.

    We are determined to:
  35. Ensure women's equal access to economic resources, including land,credit, science and technology, vocational training, information, communication and markets, as a means to further the advancement and empowerment of women and girls, including through the enhancement of their capacities to enjoy the benefits of equal access to these resources, interalia, by means of international cooperation;
  36. Ensure the success of the Platform for Action, which will require astrong commitment on the part of Governments, international organizations and institutions at all levels. We are deeply convinced that economic development, social development and environmental protection are interdependent and mutually reinforcing components of sustainable development, which is the framework for our efforts to achieve a higher quality of life for all people. Equitable social development that recognizes empowering the poor, particularly women living in poverty, to utilize environmental resources sustainably is a necessary foundation for sustainable development. We also recognize that broad-based and sustained economic growth in the context of sustainable development is necessary to sustain social development and social justice. The success of the Platform for Action will also require adequate mobilization of resources at the national and international levels as well as new and additional resources to the developing countries from all available funding mechanisms, including multilateral, bilateral and private sources for the advancement of women; financial resources to strengthen the capacity of national, sub regional, regional and international institutions; acommitmentto equal rights, equal responsibilities and equal opportunities and to the equal participation of women and men in all national, regional and international bodies and policy-making processes; and the establishment or strengthening of mechanisms at all levels for accountability to the world's women;
  37. Ensure also the success of the Platform for Action in countries with economies in transition, which will require continuedinternationalcooperation and assistance;
  38. We hereby adopt and commit ourselves as Governments to implement the following Platform for Action, ensuring that a gender perspectives reflected in all our policies and programmes. We urge the United Nations system, regional and international financial institutions, other relevant regional and international institutions and all women and men, as well asnon-governmental organizations, with full respect for their autonomy, and all sectors of civil society, in cooperation with Governments, to fully commit themselves and contribute to the implementation of this Platform for Action.
See: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/beijing/platform/declar.htm

28 June 2018

And, the Children Shall Lead Us

Here is Emmy's take on the spate of school shootings and the response that the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL engendered:

Emily K. Robertson is an award winning rug hooker.  Much of her art carries a strong social message.  See another example of her work at: Visit to Fuller Craft Museum Exhibit "Threads of Resistance".

Despite relocating to Wisconsin Emmy remains closely associated with WomenExplore.

03 May 2018

Memories of our friend Judith Cohen

—Judith Cohen

Please write your memories of Judith in the comments section below.  (Click on "comments" or "No comments" if you can't see it.)  You can comment "anonymously" but please identify yourself - first name and initial will do.  Our stories of Judith will be collected together for her daughters.

20 April 2018

Aging in Place: Living in My Own Home as I Grow Older

Photo: Karen Sheahan
Focus talk given on 19th April 2018 on the topic of "Aging in Place: The Village Movement"
      —Carol Goldman

Carol has been a member of TOP/WE for 40 years. She has served on the board several times. She has often led the planning process for creating upcoming series. She has given several focus talks. She has authored a chapter in the book "Sacred Dimensions of Women's Experience". She is an exhibiting artist; she has created and presented stories of women in the scriptures; she is well known as a mental health advocate.

     I want to share thoughts about where I want to live as I age. I welcome the inspiration of Atul Gawande’s 2014 book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (New York, Penguin Books, 2014). Atul is a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He regrets that older individuals often do not get information that would enable them (and their families) to make appropriate decisions about their medical treatment and locations where they might live. Atul writes that he was grateful that “how [his grandfather] wanted to live was his choice. … For most of human history … elders were cared for in multigenerational systems, often with three generations living under one roof. … [The] elderly were not left to cope with the infirmities of age on their own” (pp.16-17). Now “choices for the elderly have proliferated” (p. 21).
     I am seventy-eight years old. I own and live in a duplex townhouse condominium in Watertown, MA. The condo complex has twelve units grouped together. I pay a condo fee every month. The condo association arranges for landscaping, shoveling, and other management details. My neighbors and I look out for each other’s condo when we take trips.
     I have gone through a decision-making process. From my current perspective, I am clear that if I am physically and emotionally able, I want to continue living in my condominium as long as I can.
     Several factors determine my decision. Whatever one’s decision, there are tasks and arrangements that may need to be carried out now. I often feel overwhelmed as I outline these steps. As I reviewed what I had written for today, I wondered if I could and would carry out the tasks needed to help me achieve my short and long-term goals.
     I hope that each person will go through their own decision-making process.
     I have been married to my current husband, eighty years old, for forty-five years. We have lived in the condo for forty years. We brought up our children in the condo. The children moved out in various stages before they attended college.
     My husband has developed many physical issues. He recently underwent three hospitalizations for different reasons and stayed for twenty-eight days in-patient at a treatment center in Brighton, MA for rehabilitation of a dislocated shoulder.
     My attempts to carry on conversations with my husband about where we might live as we age have met with brief responses. My husband thinks that he will die soon at home or in a hospital and does not need to go through an extended decision-making process. I estimate living for fifteen more years. He stresses his concern that running the condo without him would be a strain on me. He wishes I would consider a continuum of care option starting with independent living (that would have assisted living and nursing care facilities on the same campus). That option does not appeal to me; I am competent to live at home alone and arrange for help and companionship as I need it. I want to have as much independence as possible and make informed decisions about my own life.
     I am currently competent to live at home alone.
     To enter the condo from the street entrance, you go up three steps from the ground. Inside the condo has three levels. The ground level has a half bathroom, a kitchen, and a combined living/dining room area. There is a small outside back porch with a big shared back yard. The full bathroom, linen closet, master bedroom, and two small rooms are on the top level; you go up a large flight of twisting stairs to get there. In the basement are the washer/dryer, file cabinets, book shelves, a storage pantry, closets, and two desks with large personal computers; you go down a steep stairway to get to the basement.
     When I had both hips replaced starting in 2010 (four years apart), it was a struggle to get up the stairs to the bedroom. I stayed in a rehabilitation facility until I could climb the stairs. I have several accommodations in place like grab bars in the shower, bars on the raised toilet seat, and banisters on the stairs. If I were older and living alone, I might rearrange the house for more compactness.
     We decided not to do work inside of the house. Last year we had all the windows in the home replaced for safety and efficiency measures. I might have other work done on the house if it would be useful to me.
     Over the years, my husband and I have accumulated a lot of “stuff”. After a lecture in a WomenExplore Series dealing with the importance of confronting one’s stuff, I found a center that focuses on the skills useful for dealing with hoarding. Since 2012, I have attended various classes and groups on de-cluttering. I hired a woman who specializes in downsizing to come to my home and help me with this challenge. Working together, we have made progress in sorting and discarding items. Organizing my stuff is a priority. I want there to be room for providers, service people, companions, family, and friends to visit my home. Now I meet most people outside my home. I do not want to be isolated as I age. I want to ensure that my home meets safety codes. I want my condo to be accessible to me as I become more restricted physically.
     The accessibility of my home is a factor in its suitability for me as I age.
     My fifty-year old son, a lawyer, lives in San Francisco, CA; he travels extensively. My forty-nine-year old married daughter lives in Boulder, CO with her two children, ages seven and ten. Both of my children lead very busy lives. I wish to stay in my home in Watertown.
     Every few months, I meet with my younger brother, who lives nearby, and have informed him of my wishes. He has agreed to help me manage my over-all living arrangements if something happens to my husband and if I request help. My cousin has agreed to be a back up to my brother. My brother and cousin have both agreed to be my health care proxy and durable power of attorney if needed.
     We regularly visit my husband’s family who live in the Nahant, MA area. I attend occasional functions hosted by my own family who live in the Newton-Brookline area. I feel that running my home as I age will be my job with help as needed. My local families will undertake minimal hands-on tasks and social visits.
     Availability and interest of my family is a factor in my choice.
     Financially, because of a trust, social security benefits, and long-term financial investments made with my financial planner in conjunction with my husband, I have the money to pay for several choices which could be very expensive.
     I am financially secure in exploring options.
     I have a very active life in my current location. Although I do not drive, I utilize the local taxi services. I go as a helper when I travel with my husband, who qualifies for the MBTA Ride.
     I utilize several medical and mental-health professionals in this area. When they retire or leave, they refer me to excellent replacements within their departments. I am happy with my extensive body-work practitioners nearby: my personal trainer at my athletic club, my physical therapist, my chiropractor, my massage healer. I appreciate the familiarity and consistency I have with my providers.
     I have made several friends in the Boston area with whom I maintain active relationships.
     I like having my Watertown condo as my “home” base. I enjoy traveling and attending retreats. I will continue to travel as much as I can.
     Location and transportation options are important to me.
     I have belonged to several communities for over forty years: My husband and I participate in a Reform Jewish congregation in Belmont, MA. We attend services, classes, and special events. I belong to a separate more participatory Jewish Renewal congregation in Waltham, MA which I attend on my own.
     At WomenExplore, I have created rituals, delivered written and oral presentations, served on the board, led lecture-planning and Advisory Committee sessions. I currently answer any telephone enquiries.
     I regularly attend my Wellesley College Class of 1962 and my Newton High School Class of 1958 reunions.
     Local community is important to me.
     I thank the WomenExplore Advisory Committee for including the topic: “Aging in Place” as part of our “Exploring…” Series. I have resisted thinking about my living arrangements as I grow older. This topic has helped me clarify my priorities. However, I am reassured that there are several programs and resources available to me on this upcoming journey.

08 April 2018

Demographers Define the Differences Between Generations

Focus talk given on 29th March 2018 on the topic of "The Millennials: New Approaches to Old Problems"
—Barbara Villandry

     You know I’m interested in how demographers and advertising researchers like to define generations of Americans.  Each of these generations is different from their parents, but also similar.  “Cohort” is the term social scientists prefer to “generations” to indicate “people within a delineated population who experience the same significant events within a given time period.  Sociologist Karl Mannheim emphasized that the rapidity of social change in youth was crucial to the formation of generations, and that not every generation would come to see itself as distinct.  In periods of rapid social change, a generation would be much more likely to develop a cohesive character.  But this isn’t an exact science.  There are as many differences in attitudes, values, behaviors and lifestyles within a generation as there are between generations.
     I remember my grandmother telling me that during the depression, she had to visit her banker to beg for one more month to get current on the mortgage of the family home.  She never got over that experience.  The family owned a jewelry store, so you can imagine how difficult a luxury business was to keep afloat during the Depression, but they managed to do it, and they were able to keep the family homestead. 
     But coming of age during the Great Depression didn’t impact my mom and my aunt the same way.  My Aunt Eleanor became thrifty beyond reason.  In 1940 at the age of 19, she went to Manhattan to try to break into the entertainment business as a dancer and a singer. She learned to make a dime stretch a long way.  After five years in Manhattan, she joined my mom working for my grandfather in the jewelry store.  When my grandparents died, my mom and her sister inherited the store, and kept it going for a few years, but they had very different philosophies about how to run the business.  My aunt didn’t want to buy new merchandise, and my mom said customers wouldn’t keep coming in without new stock.  They sold the store.  My aunt retired in her 50’s, and mom went to work for another local jewelry store. In her retirement, my aunt developed a real interest in investing in the stock market, and mom became the ultimate American consumer.
     Both mom and my aunt were part of what Tom Brokow coined as “The Greatest Generation.”  This includes people born between 1901 and 1925.  They survived the Great Depression and lived through WW II.  They were the first generation to have telephones, and a radio in the home, and were said to have a strong sense of right and wrong.
     Folks born between the mid 1920’s and the mid-1940s are called the “Silent Generation;“ they focused on their careers rather than on activism, and this cohort was encouraged to conform to social norms.  As young adults during the McCarthy Era, many members of the Silent Generation felt it was dangerous to speak out.  Elwood Carlson, a professor of Sociology at Florida State labeled them “The Lucky Few” because even though they were born during the depression and WW II, they moved into adulthood during the relatively prosperous 1950’s and early 1960’s.  This generation had higher employment rates than the generations before and after them.
       I missed being a Baby Boomer by three months, but I’m this close to being one.  Generally, Baby Boomers are born between 1946 and 1964.  This generation was the wealthiest, most active, and most physically fit generation up to the time they arrived on the scene.  They were among the first to grow up expecting the world to improve with time.  This cohort gets its name because of the phenomenal increase in births during this period:  76 million.
     In the U.S., this generation can be segmented into two broadly defined cohorts:  The Leading-Edge Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1955, who came of age during the Vietnam War, and the other half of the generation born between 1956 and 1964 called Late Boomers or Trailing-Edge Boomers.
     Boomers grew up at a time of dramatic change.  In school, we were taught to “duck and cover,” as the response to air raid sirens that could predict a nuclear attack.  Some of our neighbors were building fallout shelters and stocking them with dehydrated food and bottled water.  President Kennedy led us through the Cuban Missile crisis, NASA put a man on the moon, a wall divided Germany into Communist-controlled East Germany and independent West Germany.  Young men could be drafted and sent to Vietnam, and the number of male students on campus seeking educational deferments was high.  So were the numbers of men crossing the border to Canada to avoid the draft.  Students were protesting the Vietnam War.  Flower power became a term.  Folks were living together in communes.  Some were touting free love, others open marriages.  Haight-Ashbury became the center for the counter culture.  The women’s movement was marked by women burning their bras and demanding to be heard.  Desegregation was a movement.  Baby Boomers were the first generation to grow up with television and rock and roll. Have I left anything out?   President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated.
     The first Baby Boomer cohort are strongly Democratic, the second half strongly Republican.  The later Baby Boomers came of age during Watergate and Nixon’s resignation.  They remember the oil embargo and lines at the gas station, raging inflation, economic recession, lower employment, the Iran hostage crisis, Ronald Reagan and the AIDS crisis.  Their key characteristics are that they are less optimistic, they distrust government, and they are generally cynical.
     Generation Xers were born between the early to mid-1960s and the early 1980s.  Society was again changing, and these children were called the “latchkey generation,” because they had reduced adult supervision as children compared to the previous generations, a result of increasing divorce rates and increased maternal participation in the workforce prior to the availability of good childcare options outside of the home.  As adolescents and young adults, they were dubbed the “MTV Generation.”  In the 1990s, they were sometimes characterized as slackers, cynical and disaffected.  Some of the cultural influences on Gen X youth were the musical genres of grunge and hip-hop music, and indie films.  In midlife, research describes them as active, happy, and achieving a work-life balance.  This cohort has been credited with entrepreneurial tendencies. 
     The declining birth rate of this generation is attributed to the introduction of the birth control pill in the early 1960s.  Increased immigration partially offset these declining birth rates and contributed to making Generation X an ethically and culturally diverse demographic cohort.
     Politically, in the U.S. the Gen X childhood coincided with a time when government funding tended to be diverted away from programs for children.  One in five American children grew up in poverty during this period.  Gen Xers came of age or were children during the crack epidemic, which disproportionately impacted urban areas and the African American community. 
     The emergence of AIDS coincided with Gen X’s adolescence.  Some sex education programs in schools were adopted to address the AIDS epidemic, which taught Gen X students that sex could kill them.  Gen Xers were the first children to have access to computers in their homes and schools.
     Strauss & Howe wrote of Generation X: “They are already the greatest entrepreneurial generation in U.S. history; their high-tech savvy and marketplace resilience have helped America prosper in the era of globalization.”
     Finally, the millennials, born in the early 1980s, through the mid-1990s.  This generation is generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies.  It was the generation negatively impacted by the Great Recession.  This is the generation that was born into the age of terrorism. 
     The experts differ in how they describe the Millennials.  Strauss and Howe ascribe seven basic traits to them:  special, sheltered, confident, team-oriented, conventional, pressured, and achieving.  Psychologist Jean Twenge wrote a book calling them “Generation Me.”  She says they are confident and tolerant, be they also believe they are entitled and are narcissistic. 
     American sociologist Kathleen Shaputis has called millennials the “Boomerang Generation” or the “Peter Pan Generation” because they tend to delay some rites of passage into adulthood for longer periods than most generations before them.  They also tend to live with their parents for longer periods than previous generations.  This could be attributable to the high cost of housing and higher education, and the relative affluence of their parents. Data from a 2014 study of U.S. millennials revealed over 56% consider themselves as part of the working class, with only approximately 35% considering themselves as part of the middle class.  This class identity for people who believe themselves to be in the middle class is the lowest polling of any generation.
     Research by the Urban Institute conducted in 2014 projected that if current trends continue, millennials will have a lower marriage rate compared to previous generations, predicting that by age 40, 3.7% of millennial women will remain single, approximately twice the share of their single Gen X counterparts.  The data showed similar trends for males.
     According to a cross-generational study comparing millennials to Generation X conducted at the Wharton School of Business, more than half of Millennial undergraduates surveyed do not plan to have children.  The researchers compared surveys of the Wharton graduating classes of 1992 and 2012.  In 1992, 78% of women planned to eventually have children dropping to 42% in 2012.  The results were similar for male students. 
     Another large study of millennials found that they are frequently in touch with their parents an average of 1.5 times a day.  They use technology at a higher rate than other generations.  This group is referred to as “digital natives.”  They have home computers, tablets and smartphones.  They watch tv on their mobile devices. 
     Millennials use social networking sites such as Facebook to create a different sense of belonging, making acquaintances, and to remain connected with friends. 
     Millennials are on a track to be the most formally educated generation.  In 2008, 39.6% of millennials between the ages of 18-24 were enrolled in college, which was an American record.  Along with being educated, millennials tend to be upbeat.  About 9 out of 10 millennials feel as though they have enough money or that they will reach their long-term financial goals, even during the tough economic times, and they are more optimistic about the future of the U.S. 
     Additionally, millennials are more open to change than older generations.  According to the Pew Research Center 2008 study, millennials are the most likely of any generation to self-identify as liberals and are also more supportive of progressive domestic social agenda than older generation.  Finally, millennials are less overtly religious than the older generations.  About one in four millennials are unaffiliated with any religion, a considerably higher ratio than that of older generations when they were the ages of millennials. 

01 February 2018

Visit to Fuller Craft Museum Exhibit "Threads of Resistance"

Today, Thursday 1st February 2018, seventeen people associated with WomenExplore met up at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton to view the Threads of Resistance traveling fiber art show, especially to see the rug hooked by our beloved longtime member, Emmy Robertson. Imagine our dismay when we discovered that the rug in question had been removed from display the day before to protect it from a water leak. After a little cajoling the museum staff graciously brought it out from a back room and placed it on a table so that we could see it!

The bulk of the show was beautiful quilts with pointed messages. I also saw a felted wall hanging and there was a corridor displaying a large variety "pussy hats" beside a discussion of the controversy raised by that term. A number of quilts deemed not suitable for children were sequestered behind a black curtain. The quilts came from as far afield as Australia and New Zealand.

Another special exhibit entitled Gender Bend featured the work of male fiber artists and women woodworkers. A number of the displays in this exhibit based on word play particularly appealed to me, including the Boxed Homonyms (Murder, Stamp, Rock), Lip Service and Bitter and Twisted. I also saw some of the exhibit on mental health. A display of a selection of works from Fuller's permanent collection included an incredible glass vase/teardrop created in a demonstration by Lino Tagliapietro, one of Venice's finest glassblowers and then donated to the museum fortuitously just as the museum was moving its emphasis to contemporary work.

The museum itself is housed in a beautifully designed building based on a rectangle of corridors with a number of galleries, a picnic room and a great hall opening outwards. Windows opening onto the inner courtyard or looking out over the adjacent pond or natural surroundings flood the building with light.