Archive for December 2016 | Monthly archive page
Since our founding in 2004, DC EcoWomen has grown from what was once an informal gathering of like-minded women into a full-fledged nonprofit reaching nearly 5,000 members and running 40 programs each year — all with the goal of supporting and empowering women to become leaders in the professional environmental space.
Our organization is run entirely by our board members — women with “regular” day jobs at other environmental nonprofits, consulting firms, businesses, government agencies, and other organizations — who volunteer their time in the extra corners of their evenings, weekends, late-nights, and early-mornings to organize EcoHours, schedule out newsletters, put on workshops, host networking events, and keep the trains running on time with the nuts and bolts that make up this organization and its great community.
With the new year approaching and inspiring a time to reflect, we asked our board members to tell us why it is they dedicate their spare time and energy to our mission, and what it is they love about DC EcoWomen. Here’s what they said:
“It is a community of multitooled women coming together for inspiration, education and connection. Women work together here to make women in environment a force for good. And as a woman in the environment I know that this community would not exist for us if it was not built, staffed, and maintained by us, and I don’t take that for granted. DC EcoWomen feeds my curiosity, buoys my hard days with solid examples of women of every age, and experience and background and who are on the same path, as mentors, speakers and real life leaders who work in government, in newsrooms, in community and in the streets. I don’t know of any other organization that brings us all together. So, long story short I love EcoWomen, because it reflects the best intentions of community and looks and feels like a place for me.” – Tamara Toles O’Laughlin
“It lives up to its superlatives. It is a group of energetic women whose focus is to give others the best tools that they can to go out and do good in the world. It is an amplifier of awesome that draws its energy from its amazing community.” – KC Stover
“I love EcoWomen because it’s such a positive and supportive community of environmentally-minded women. I have learned so much through the professional development team’s workshops and EcoHour speakers, and I have met more seriously cool DC women than I thought was possible, including some lifelong friends. I even found housing through the listserv! The DC EcoWomen really helped me adjust to living in DC and I want to make sure that other women who come after me have the opportunity to be served by this wonderful community as well.” – Claire Garvin
“I get to be surrounded by passionate women who are lifting each other up as leaders in the DC environmental community. To know that every woman involved in DC EcoWomen is doing so in her spare time is inspiring, and I’m proud to be involved in such a positive organization.” – Jackie Marks
Remember, we can’t do any of this without you. As a volunteer-run non-profit organization, we hope you’ll consider giving to DC EcoWomen to help us continue our programming and services to you and other DC-area women. Only four days left before Sunday, January 1 to support our tax-deductible End-of-Year-Giving campaign.
Help us to do more for you, with you. Give to something you love. Give to DC EcoWomen today:
By Tamara Toles-O’laughlin
There is no neat and tidy way to sum up my feelings about current events. Highs and lows abound for all of us who earnestly want to solve big problems or at least mitigate catastrophe, in the natural and built environment. As government regimes shift along party lines there is room enough for everyone to complain. As feminists, we are again bound to search our practice for true inclusion of marginalized peoples in the intersection of women and the environment. And we must look more deeply at our roles within those margins. As citizens, we will need to reengage our sectors, disciplines, and constituencies for answers and alignment. As EcoWomen, we must collectively move beyond the specter of a receding status quo and grope our dashed or diminished hopes for productive actions that will buck trends to ensure that the legacy of our generation is one of stewardship and justice. Viewed together, our work assails the banality of injustice through an unrelenting demand for increased access, inclusion, equity, and for plain old understanding, and that won’t stop now.
Connection begets Community
EcoWomen is a community of diverse thinkers, strategists, planners, anglers, wonks, workers, and women. Together we search for and find renewed purpose to meet challenges as they arise. Take a good hard look at us. We work for sustainable cities; promote agency for under-resourced peoples; plant gardens for food and righteousness; act as a safeguard for key species; write policy that influences behavior to combat climate change causes and effects; and bolster conservation in every environ. For those of us who desire an expansive form of social justice, circumstances require us to continue to push for the collective good, for the greatest number. We will fare better if we do it in community.
Engage Beyond the Echo Chamber
This is a time for strength. We have strength in numbers. In support of our mission, it is in our interest to continue to make room for divergent thought, support innovation in every direction and apply pressure to transform power structures so that they reach the greatest number. We won’t succeed in an echo chamber of agreement but by opening the ways and means by which we reach consensus.
Increasingly, environment and conservation actions explicitly bleed into issues of parity, representation, resource, burden, and benefit distribution. To make it meaningful, we will need to recommit as members of community to deeper engagement on the issues of our time, and in so doing leverage the power of the many to move the state for positive impact.
These are not the salad days. We are women at the intersection of climate, politic, and modernity. We are faced with compound challenges to our species’ survival. In this moment, I am hopeful that we have a chance to make gains out of conflict IF we can face the acrimony of behavior change, IF we deny the illusion of stand-alone issues AND connect the dots as EcoWomen with the efforts of other communities we are a part of.
As we close out the year, let’s turn our good intentions into action. I challenge you (now) to change your relationship to what troubles you, and to get nearer to every challenge. And I ask you to set your intention to develop solutions with those formerly deemed “other” as partners rather than allies. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with alliance, except that it can normalize the perceptible space between what threatens each of us with what threatens all of us.
Strength as a Practice
As we brace for new norms we would do well to recall that as EcoWomen, we are in this, whatever it is, together.
So, let’s pledge to start the new year as we would see it end, with justice at the fore of our approach to environment, and to see it through to the defense of our everyday liberty. If you plant trees, plant more trees. If you work on storm water reduction, then mitigate away. Advocate, agitate, intervene, and include all voices at the point of decision making, for yourself and for your community. We will need you now more than ever.
Tamara is an environmental advocate focused on civil society and justice issues. She holds degrees from The City College, City University of New York and two advanced degrees from Vermont Law School. Her hobbies include reading boring books about politics and neuroscience, writing diatribes about what she reads, traveling, and yoga.