Archive for March 2013 | Monthly archive page

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The following is a guest post from DC EcoWomen Board Member Nicole Dvorak

A packed house at the clothing swap

The year: 2012. The event: The DC EcoWomen Clothing Swap. I don’t even remember what I was doing that day (do I remember what I had for lunch two days ago? Hmmm…), but I didn’t make it to the clothing swap and afterwards heard nothing but great things about it. I quietly lamented my absence from the free-fest.

Determined to not make the same mistake twice, I marked March 16th, 2013 on my calendar as Swap Day and put on my game face. The week of the event, I found out that we had 80 women RSVP (gulp). Eighty women??? Oh my God, I thought I was going to fall out of my chair. How were we going to fit that many in one room? What was I going to do if we didn’t have enough clothing? I have a few good corny jokes up my sleeve and could use those as a distraction just in case, but it would hardly make up for any noticeable clothing shortage. Breaking out the chicken dance wasn’t going to save us, either.

Our (S)hero and host, Brenna Mannion, accepted the challenge and we embraced the possibility of a very full room of ladies ready to get their “Girl, I’m not Shoppin’, I’m Swappin'” on. We had at least thirty ladies attend, and I could not have been happier. Not only did we have women come in with a few pieces from their closets, we had some who looked like they had adopted a “Swap or Bust” attitude and walked in with whole BAGS full of clothing, much to the excitement and anticipation of the other women. It was like being in a clothing store that got a new shipment in every 5 minutes…and everything was FREE!

I would like to extend a HUGE thank you to Brenna Mannion and her housemates for graciously hosting, and to the many woman who came to swap. I’m thrilled that our swappers were thrilled, and that we could help make that happen.

Of course, any clothing that was left over (about 15 bags of it) was donated to great causes. All professional clothing was given to America Works, and any additional clothing was donated to Martha’s Outfitters, a part of Martha’s Table. Thank you again, and we look forward to the next SWAP!

Brenna, the host, rocks a new vest



posted by | Comments Off on Be Green, Build Your Sustainable Career

St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, and there is one color that is on everyone’s mind: Green. Green clothes, green beer, green decorations, green faces – this past weekend has been full to bursting with green.

This year, the greenness is spreading further into our minds, into our attitudes, and into our lives. “Greenifying” has taken on a new meaning, as climate change is starting to hit home in America. Sustainability is no longer a buzzword, it is becoming a necessity of life.

And in our lives, we are realizing the importance of advancing our own sustainable careers, and the opportunities for long-lasting work to protect the earth. Women still haven’t reached equality in the workplace, for many reasons. This is partly because they don’t have access to – or take advantage of – the tools and experiences necessary to get ahead.

Just as no one can create a house out of thin air, no one lands directly into a dream career. It takes years of experience and building. It requires continual upkeep, inspection, and if necessary, demolition and rebuilding.

Many women have gone through this process and have the tools to help others build their own career. The lessons from these women are invaluable. Whenever the opportunity arises for you to learn these important skills, you should take it.

Luckily, the DC EcoWomen Conference is just around the corner. On Saturday, May 18, we will build skills to help us navigate through challenges we face in our careers and in our lives. I’m Here, What’s Next? will offer multiple sessions on career skills improvement, turning your passion into a profession, and ways to improve your personal life – it will be a day full of hands-on skill-building workshops that will teach you how to take that next step.

I’m Here, What’s Next, will be on Saturday, May 18, 2013, from 8:30am-4pm with a 4pm-6pm Networking Happy Hour immediately following the conference. The Keynote Speaker will be Dr. Betty Spence, and workshop panelists include Suzy Mink, Marin Rose, Chris Jahnke, and so many more.

You can learn more about the conference and purchase your ticket by visiting

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Here at DC Ecowomen, our goal is for our community members to benefit from being a part of our community.  It’s a hard thing to measure, but we’re going to give it a try! Throughout the next few months, we’ll be highlighting some of our own Ecowomen Success Stories – and we encourage you to submit your own story to us! If you feel that you have gotten where you are today because of DC Ecowomen, email [email protected] and tell us how!

But first, read our first Success Story, Beth Porter.  Beth is currently a member of the DC Ecowomen Board.

Her Story: 

After I had graduated from college, I spent copious hours doing what every new grad does…emailing resumes and crossing my fingers. Dozens of emails, applications, and cover letters later, I heard back from an amazing non-profit group that works to promote the green economy (requiring both environmental sustainability as well as fair trade and fair labor practices). After a phone call with their director of development, I was on my way from NC to DC for my first post-college full-time job interview.

The first meeting went quite well and though I had a good feeling about the job (Marketing Membership Coordinator), I later received a very kind voicemail from the organization letting me know that they had chosen another candidate who had more fundraising experience. Despite my disappointment, I asked that they keep me in mind as a volunteer, as I truly did love the organization and respected their mission.

Moving to DC

Fortunately, I received an offer from an interview I had a few weeks later with a conservation non-profit in DC, and accepted the open position in their Grants Administration department. I moved to DC and soon began attending EcoWomen events, my very first being a tree-planting day with CaseyTrees last April. Then, in the summer I took advantage of an email for the upcoming DC EcoWomen happy hour which requested resumes to apply for the Executive Board. This led me to become a part of the membership committee of our executive board, which focuses on diversifying membership for the group as well as fundraising efforts and outreach through tabling events and building relationships with groups who have a similar mission.

Getting involved with Ecowomen

After a year of learning about grants funding, I was eager to find a job which would build upon the skills I’d gained from serving on the EcoWomen board. I was thrilled to see that the previous Marketing Membership Coordinator job had become available again, so I applied letting them know that I had previously applied and was still excited about the prospect of working for their organization. During the interview, I cited the experience I had gained from serving on the board in terms of fundraising and outreach to prospective members.

How it all paid off

Less than a week later, I received the call offering me the position I had been denied just a year and a half before. I am incredibly grateful for the chance to build upon skills through the work of DC EcoWomen and have no doubt that the experience I’ve gained was a direct influence on my brand new exciting job.

posted by | on , , , | Comments Off on Women in the Workplace – Working for Equality

As we celebrate another International Women’s Day, we recognize the many strides of achievement women have made in this world to achieve equality. But one place where we are still far behind, even in our own country, is equality in the workplace.

I have always thought of myself as a pretty good negotiator. When I was younger, I would seek out the local flea markets while on vacation and bargain with the retailers. It was like a game. My prized possession was a single-person hammock was priced at $150, and I walked away with it for $25.

But research and time has proven that women still get the short end of the stick in nearly every aspect of the working world. Paid 77 cents to the male dollar, and holding only 22 percent of all senior management positions, there is still a glass ceiling in this country that prevents women from rising to levels equal to men. The authors of the book “Women Don’t Ask” explain that this arises from the trials and challenges women face with negotiations. Women don’t ask for what they want, and when they do, they ask for less.

There seems to be a simple solution to this dilemma, suggested clearly by the book’s title: simply ask! Just get out of your chair, march to your boss’s office, and ask for what you wants.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. There are many social and cultural norms that may prevent a woman from asking for what she wants. What’s more, these norms also can negatively affect how she is perceived if she does ask. In the end, the average woman still ends up with less.

At the February bookclub, DC EcoWomen gathered at the ever-delightful Teaism to discuss this paradox.

We came up with several key messages and takeaways to remember.

1. Women need to recognize that the discrimination exists. It never occurs to most women that the starting salary at their first job is negotiable, or that if a promotion opens up they might have to ask instead of hoping their boss recognizes their talents. Do research, be upfront, and ask for what you want instead of hoping that you will get what you deserve.

2. Men need to recognize this, too. Too many dismiss gender discrimination because they don’t see it themselves. But much of this discrimination exists on a subconscious level.

3. Expectations are key. Many research studies have shown that people fulfill what they think is expected of them. If you are expected to do well, you probably will. If you are expected to fail, you are much more likely to do so.

4. Social gender norms are instilled even in early childhood. The expectations stem back to the chores, games, and mannerisms in childhood. When dividing up chores, girls are more likely to do housework – and not get paid – and boys are more likely to do outdoor tasks that they can even do for their neighbors for money. From the outset, many girls and boys are taught different things about the value of what they do.

5. Aggregate your assets. It is important to walk into a negotiation know what you are worth and be able to communicate that to your superior. It is also important to know for yourself, for self-confidence. One really intelligent suggestion that came from the bookclub is to create a “good-jobs folder” in your email account; every time someone sends you an email saying you did well, put it in that folder to reference later.

6. Feminine attributes have value in the workplace. One of the issues that arises when women do negotiate is the risk of seeming over-competitive and aggressive. To overcome this, it is often suggested that women ensure to be friendly, willing to negotiate, and be a team player. To emphasize that she cares about the good of the company, along with her self-interests. In my opinion, these traits are good, and are valuable for any gender.

7. Things are changing. At the end, the ladies felt hopeful. As more women excel in the workforce, there will be a gradual shift in values and norms. To reinforce positivity and work for the benefit of the whole can only have a positive impact in the workforce.

The flea market was a situation where I knew the rules, and was expected to haggle. So I did. Then if I walked away with a great deal, it was fantastic, and if not, it didn’t really matter – I had fun. Matters of business are not so clear, and often have more riding on the line than a hammock-chair. In this case, many things need to change.

The first step to social change is awareness. For now, women can learn about the social norms and use them to their advantage. They can recognize that they might be missing opportunities by not asking, and learn how to negotiate in a way that works for them.

Eventually, expectations will change until equality is the norm. It will take time, but time is always necessary to achieve something so valuable.

If you’re looking to educate yourself further, “Women Don’t Ask” co-author Sarah Laschever has a website of tools, education, and resources for women and negotiation. Check it out here:

posted by | Comments Off on International Women’s Day

Originally post on Redefining Eco, and reposted here with their permission. 

Every year on March 8, the United Nations declares it to be International Women’s Day.  Women’s rights activists use this day as a day of action, individual women use the day as a day to celebrate with close women friends, and the international community uses this day to highlight ‘women’s issues’ around the globe. Last year, we talked about how women and the environment intersect.

This year, one of the themes is “The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum.” (There are several themes put out by organizations.  This theme is put out  by, the organization that promotes all activities related to the day). 

While it may feel like the US political climate is not making any strides toward gender equality, I’m encouraged by the number of articles I’ve read lately that use the correct pronouns, or that highlight how awesome little girls are being in math and science.  I feel confident that girls are growing up today knowing that they can be leaders in whatever field they choose.  Whether it feels like it or not, we are gaining some momentum!

There are lots of ways that you can celebrate our women leaders this Friday!

posted by | on , , | Comments Off on DC Vegetarians: Get your fix at Meat-Free Week!

Below is a post by Dawn Bickett. Read more of Dawn’s posts here.

For many of us working in environmental fields, food choice is either a matter of principle or an area of personal conflict, as Jen Howard discussed in her recent post on healthy eating. Whether it is local, organic, fair trade, vegetarian, or some combination, we want what we eat to align with what we do.

But strict diets can make events like Restaurant Week, with fixed menus that often overlook non-meat eaters, disappointing. Thankfully, DC Vegan, The Kindness Collective, and Compassion Over Killing collaborate each year to put on Meat-Free Week, a celebration of all foods animal product-free. Started as a response to Meat Week (which precedes Restaurant Week and is exactly what you guessed) Meat-Free Week provide non-meat eaters with a celebration of their own. Now in its fourth year, Meat-Free Week fills 7 days with cooking classes, pop-up restaurants, and discounts on vegan and vegetarian fare across the city.

As a vegan new to DC, Meat-Free Week immediately caught my attention. Even days beforehand, most of the events were already sold out—a testament to the thriving vegetarian community in the District—but I did manage to snag a spot at the BBQ Kick-Off Party hosted by Cupcake Wars-winning Sticky Fingers Bakery.

Sticky Fingers is not known for its dinner options, so I was pleasantly surprised by their delicious Southern BBQ-style meal, complete with coleslaw, cornbread, collards, and sweet tea. Among the dishes, the real standout was their BBQ pulled “pork,” which achieved a pleasant soft and chewy texture that shone through the tangy and smoky sauce that covered it. And no meal at Sticky Fingers is complete without one of their award (and show) winning cupcakes. In this case, the chosen variety was a peanut butter banana cupcake so good that I seriously contemplated purchasing a few more to bring home.

Beyond the food, the Sticky Fingers event was enjoyable simply for the sense of camaraderie that filled the room. Diners were not just taking advantage of a chance for a good meal, but were genuinely excited to support and participate in a vegetarian DC event.

Meat-Free Week runs in early February with new events added each year. You can keep track of this event and other vegan news at the DC Vegan blog.  Whether you are vegan or a carnivore, Meat-Free Week provides a delicious alternative to the usual dinner fare in DC.

Banana Peanut Butter Cupcake at Sticky Fingers Bakery

Want to know more about how to help your food choices match your work? Check out our Community Gardens resource page!