February 28, 2012
I’ve had many false starts when it comes to fitness. I’ve started swimming, weights, yoga, and running, and then I stop. So when I started asking my friends to register for the 5K run/walk WSCADV is organizing, I had to face the fact that I’ve never registered or trained for one myself.
To my friends who run, I tell them things like “I could never do that” or “it seems too intense.” My response sounds a lot like what I hear when I tell people what I do for a living. Domestic violence can be prevented, but it’s going to take all of us. You may not make it your career, but everyone can get involved in some way.
So instead of merely telling people to register for (maybe another) 5K in a disconnected way, I am investing in the process myself. I am committed to having fun, being enthusiastic, and focusing on my well-being. I am going to run regularly so that I am a confident, assured runner, and invite my friends to do the same.
And I also invite you to invest in the lives of domestic violence survivors, children, and yes, even abusers. Bring a renewed commitment and energy that you’ve never brought before by being curious, compassionate, and action-oriented.
I’m confident that I can (finally) complete training for at least a 5K, and I am equally confident that you can play a role in ending domestic violence.
I invite you to sign up for the Refuse To Abuse® 5K at Safeco Field if you have never run before. Please comment and let me know how it’s going.
February 21, 2012
This was originally posted on the National Alliance to End Homelessness blog.
I’m currently at the National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness in Los Angeles, where a lot of creative thinkers are sitting together, learning from each other, and sharing creative solutions to reach the common goal of housing families and youth in the right way and the shortest amount of time.
There seem to be a few points emerging:
- Shift program-based thinking to systems-based thinking. Systems, and not just programs in isolation, must address issues including the lack of affordable housing, limitation of shelter space, and long waiting lists for public housing. The key is to form inclusive partnerships which employ effective strategies to change the way a homeless assistance system responds to families in crisis.
- Track and use data to your advantage. Data is the cornerstone of evaluation; without it, we cannot understand the performance of the system and whether the system is meeting the goals of the program.
- Rapid re-housing/prevention works for the majority of families. It’s not just about housing; it includes wraparound services. The services may be “light touch services” (where someone needs assistance to pay off an old debt) whereas others may need advocacy from beginning to end.
We, as domestic violence advocates, cannot ignore the issues of homeless families, just as housing advocates cannot ignore the fact that domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as domestic sex trafficking, impacts the ability to gain and retain safe and stable housing.
I am extremely energized by the positivity and creativity, as well as the commitment that everyone has to end homelessness on a national level. Thank you, National Alliance to End Homelessness for hosting this conference.
February 14, 2012
Valentine’s Day takes new meaning for me as I celebrate it with my second-grade son and his classmates. What are we really celebrating during this super-commercial holiday? Romance, or love? By whose definition? Who’s included and who’s left out on this day? And what do I want my son to learn about both romance and love?
Thinking about these questions in the context of the past few weeks, which brought the Komen kerfuffle, the joy of marriage equality, and the horror of Charlie and Braden’s deaths, inspired me to imagine what I hope my son and his classmates will experience in their lives:
- You can marry who you want. Or don’t get married. It’s up to you!
- You get to choose whether to have kids, and how many.
- You’re gonna learn skills for having great, healthy relationships―both at school and from all the adults in your life.
- Your government, the child welfare system, and your community will give everyone in your family really good help during times of trouble.
- Your family matters, whatever it looks like.
Happy Valentine’s Day, son. Mommy loves you!
February 7, 2012
When the news broke last week that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation would stop funding cancer screening at Planned Parenthood, the internet ran pink with shock and outrage. Outrageous, absolutely. But shocking?
Much has been made of the fact that the decision came shortly after Karen Handel became Komen’s Senior VP for Policy. Just a glance back at Handel’s unsuccessful campaign for Governor of Georgia takes the surprise out of the Komen decision. What should be shocking, outrageous, and frankly unthinkable is that an organization dedicated to women’s health would choose a leader with a political agenda that undermines that work. Handel “doesn’t support Planned Parenthood’s mission.” Have you read Planned Parenthood’s mission? It has to do with “the fundamental right of each individual, throughout the world, to manage his or her fertility, regardless of the individual’s income, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or residence.”
It is that mission―supporting men and women to make informed choices about their sexuality and reproduction―that is under attack. Last week’s decision by Komen, like the vast majority of the political bullying directed at Planned Parenthood, had nothing to do with abortion. Abortion is the sharp point of the wedge that divides us from the people that ought to be allies; it is the tip of a big, ugly political iceberg. The bulk of the agenda beneath the surface is anti-birth control, anti-sex education, anti-sexual freedom, anti-self-determination, anti-woman, and anti-gay. Whether or not it is explicitly racist and anti-immigrant, it is people of color and immigrants who get hit the hardest.
So Komen quickly reversed its decision in response to the enormous backlash. Good. But I for one hope that it is not so easy to regain support from breast cancer survivors and women’s health advocates. I hope the many thousands of runners and walkers and fundraisers Komen relies on won’t let the foundation retreat into safe, apolitical territory where breast cancer awareness is an uncontroversial brand with a massive pink product line. Because women’s health is political. Cancer is political, and so are toxic chemicals, and the corporations producing them, and those corporations’ money. The collective gut reaction of anger and disgust at the Planned Parenthood decision should remind us to connect the dots between access to health care and sexual freedom and environmental justice and racial justice. And demand that any organization that claims to honor women’s lives does the same.