Is GTW an Activist Organization?
Is Gather the Women an Activist Organization?
Here’s the short answer: “Our hope is that progress in any activism might be accomplished through the judicious use of circle principles.”
And here’s the long answer: Recently, Regional Coordinator Amy Green from Texas emailed Mary Cunningham, our Regional Coordinator Convener in Arizona “I was looking on the GTW Global Matrix site, hoping to find some info on activism. Is there some document, link, or events that other RC’s have coordinated? Would love to know what activisms GTW Global Matrix has focused on.”
Mary responded, and forwarded Amy’s request to the Conveners (and Conveners-to-be) to get their ideas. The conversation that follows happened in just two days’ time.
Mary’s response: You have raised some questions we have considered over the years! In the beginning (before my time) GTW seemed to be very socially active, even going to Africa and maybe Australia for activist events. Over the years GTW has moved to a more spiritual activism, realizing that until we ourselves are awakened to personal transformation can we then move outward in our lives to planetary transformation. This is evident in the vision statement that we created last September at our annual Gathering. (We are a global sisterhood that connects women through circles. We create a safe place to share our true selves. Meeting in circle, we find our voices, claim our power, and celebrate our self-worth, leading to personal and planetary transformation.)
Because of the type of women who are drawn to GTW, social or political activism is a part of the lives of most of us, as it is with you as well. In addition to WACENA’s mission for the girls and women, I am also extremely involved with our own LGBT community and marriage equality. There are some GTW circles who have speakers in to discuss immigration challenges or sex trafficking and other such topics, and that is done according to the interests of the women of those circles. As a global matrix sisterhood, we don’t have a select document of activism, but we all support the work, efforts, resources and energies of the women of GTW who are “doing the work” in the other parts of their lives. Does this make sense?
I am certainly not the official spokeswoman of GTW, but instead, a GTW sister choosing to Be the Change in the world, like countless thousands of other women these days.
These are exciting times for the advancement, equality and empowerment of girls and women, and for humanity worldwide.
Love, in sisterhood, Mary
Then, from Donna Ahlstrand in California: Well said, Mary. Another way to put our current position on activism is that we are focusing as an organization on circles of women – teaching circle to other women, supporting women who do circles, talking and writing about them, using circle in retreats, classrooms, offices, and conference settings. We “keep it simple” this way, and there is no question what we are “about.”
It is, however, true that many women connected with GTW are activists for a long list of causes. The way GTW is put together allows everyone to choose their own, spreading our heart-centered actions far and wide. Our hope is that progress in any activism might be accomplished through the judicious use of circle principles.
In this way, GTW itself does not have to have sometimes difficult conversations about “which cause shall we support right now?” I don’t think we’d ever agree! And if women want to work in groups with focus on a particular issue, more power to them! We dream that for everyone – to have the freedom, the desire, and the means to make permanent change in the world.
My goodness, I’m getting philosophical here. Guess I needed to say this.
Carry on! Donna Ahlstrand
Followed by Diane Jung from Canada: WOW! I love and honor what you both have written — and I too am passionate about certain causes, especially those that have to do with women and children — It’s good to revisit our principles and philosophy at different times — to have them as back up — when we are out in the world — and trying to make a positive difference –
I concur that Gather the Women is a place of support — and also a place of honesty and integrity — and when we are in that place of honesty, light and integrity — change happens for our highest good! This is why I continue to sit in circles that align with the philosophy of Gather the Women –
And as Jean Bolen says – “If it’s of value, coming from Love and Fun– then it’s a very good thing!”
In light & love, Diane
Next to weigh in are our co-RCs from Reno, Nevada, Lorraine Lima and Jeane TuBears Jacobs: We are honored to receive this beautiful question, responses, and other GTW voices around the world. Our feelings about “activism” are in complete alignment with yours, Donna’s, and Diane’s answers. And we will add to this discussion by saying Women in Circle are naturally activist; each woman’s personal inner search creates a vibration of change and connects the past, present moment, and future generations. Each woman on a personal empowerment journey will review, be, and become more authentically true to the cause of equality, greater education for all, and higher standards of living. Surely, the GTW Vision Statement is in alignment with activism. Choosing “causes” to support is a personal journey.
Here in Nevada, we had a discussion with our Steering Wheel circle regarding the mining issue in Virginia City last October. Our consensus was that the best thing we could do is shift the consciousness and raise awareness. In Virginia City at the mine site a larger group came together for a peaceful demonstration, discussion about the mining, and an earth blessing ceremony. During the blessing ceremony the miners turned off their equipment and were silent while the prayers were being said. Many more people are aware of what is happening surrounding the mining and there is action being taken and change is coming.
In GTW solidarity, we stand strong, Lorraine Lima and Jeane Tu Bears Jacobs
From across the water, Deborah Zaher, Regional Coordinator in Liverpool, UK, writes: Thank you Amy, for raising this topic. I feel warmed and excited to read that your circle is passionate about activism!
To reiterate Mary and Donna, there are many women within our organisation who are passionate about many causes, and this is one of the beautiful aspects of bringing all these powerful, caring women together!
As an organisation, concentrating on creating safe spaces in which we can honour, respect, share and listen to others talking of their experiences provides a rare, honest, supportive and “subtle” activist movement and one in which I’ve seen so much real change! This attracts more people with even more diverse views and journeys and for me that is crucial…the interconnectedness of all of us shines bright in circle. Women come to circle, are nourished… supported… heard… and can go on and do whatever activist work they are passionate about.
This is the main reason I was drawn to GTW.
I’m a member of many activist groups ranging from child protection to women’s liberation, animal rights to politics, and I find that many people I speak with are not passionate about the same areas. However, in circle, I can speak about all these things without fear of being judged or ostracised. What a gift!
With love to you all for being YOU and for all that you do
Deborah xx xx
Our Matrix Convener, Suzan Nolan or Rapid City, South Dakota also contributed to this conversation: It seems that, with each additional comment, the thinking gets richer and deeper and clearer about what it means to be an activist. I was touched and moved by everything you all shared. People often ask me what GTW does, and I know we all falter around with answering that question because we are so accustomed to thinking that we should all be Doing something, as if just sitting in circle and bearing witness in a deep way to someone else speaking her truth or we ourselves taking the deep dive into our own truth is not doing anything. This conversation has helped to illuminate the lovely idea that activism is sometimes just holding the sacred space for letting whatever it is to emerge. I feel very honored to be associated with all of you, honored and enriched in so many ways.
With sister love to you all, Suzan
And from Angie Lux, Grass Valley, CA: My only thought is that because we aim to be inclusive of all women, and not exclusive of any one group; it is difficult to pick an area for activism. Which is why Circles work for us all.
Finally, Amy responded to all our comments: Thank you all for such heartfelt and generous responses. I am happy to know that many feel that we are indeed here to “Gather the Women, Save the World”. It’s very dear to my heart to be able to “DO” something to help, as best I can. Jeane TuBears Jacobs, I love hearing your story about the peaceful demonstration re: mining. Yes! Awareness is so key. Once a person is AWARE the thought processes can begin, and like the millionth circle……behaviors can change….and soon it is common to be peaceful, loving, and caring for our Mother, the Earth, and all her children.
Hugs! Can’t wait to meet you all in person in South Dakota! Amy