Original story, authored by Founder Nancy Stephan, March 2006, updated September 2006
Imagine: Women’s Worldwide Hall of Honor connected to a circular conference center; surrounded by an avenue of international cultural centers; and on the outer ring, futuristic, thriving businesses to acknowledge and further women’s contributions to the world.
Imagine it is 2015; you are thrilled to be riding down "Honoring Women Worldwide Avenue" an amazing tribute to women's global contributions located near the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. As you gaze at miles of this incredible masterpiece, you feel a sense of awe and wonder. You see an exquisite tapestry of exclusive award winning designs, distinctive cultural architecture, gorgeous decor, matchless artifacts, unique open-air markets and a stunning conference center. Colorful flags and exceptional photos of women from every nation adorn this beautifully landscaped avenue.
Goose bumps cover your entire body, as you become aware of your deep sense of connection to women from around the globe. To honor yourself, you have devoted an entire week to absorb and explore this extraordinary avenue. You are grateful for the opportunity to learn from and celebrate women who have contributed to the world in so many ways. Each distinctive cultural center represents one ethnicity/nationality, with it's exclusive architecture, women's cultural traditions, history and evolution of women and sacred customs. You experience a feeling of awe, seeing the exceptional contributions and impact women have on society. These Cultural Centers provide you with the opportunity to view stunning films, musical performances, ethnic dances, theatrical productions, and delicious ethnic dining experiences, exciting learning opportunities, and connections with women from their unique culture.
You feel a sense of aliveness, wonder and curiosity just being on this avenue. Women earn honor based on their unique contributions, in a multitude of areas such as the art, film, music, education, business, government, science, medicine, family, and community, to name a few. Each center's committee chooses candidates yearly from specific areas of contribution. Candidates must meet specific criteria developed and agreed too by the Avenue Board of Directors. Each Ethnic committee elects a member to represent their honorees on the Avenue Board of Directors. The Board of Directors meets monthly to address avenue issues and new opportunities. In June, a yearly celebration occurs to honor all inductees into "Honoring Women Worldwide Avenue". Inductees gain global recognition for their contributions; as they are officially installed, in their specific Cultural Center.
Deep appreciation permeates your heart as you recognize the unification, commitment, time, and money it took for thousands of women and men, working in partnership and collaboration to create this landmark avenue. Having had this profound experience visiting "Honoring Women Worldwide Avenue", you feel thankful and blessed to be a woman. You realize, immersing yourself in this international atmosphere, you have experienced a global education beyond what you could ever have imagined.
Upon leaving for your homeland, you make a commitment, to honor yourself and others to make a greater impact in your family, community and world.
Who would have imagined two weekend trips in July 2005 would be the beginning of this venture and a turning point in my life. The idea began to form the weekend of July 8th, while in Atlanta, Georgia for a National Speakers Association convention, I felt compelled to visit the home, church, museum of Doctor Martin Luther King. The National Speakers convention brought me to Atlanta, but Martin Luther King's dream of freedom, peace, and honor overtook my mind, body and spirit.
As I walked the freedom trail, visited Martin Luther King's home, and attended his church, I felt the passion, energy, and commitment of this great leader to an honorable cause. Stepping into Martin Luther King's museum, I heard his penetrating deep voice bellowing through the loud speaker, "I have a dream". His words ignited all my senses, as I stood listening. My body began to tremble and waves of emotion overtook me; as I remembered, my own feelings of inequality growing up. This experience directed me to learn how to better honor myself, consider my treatment of others and live my dreams.
Frozen in place by this powerful experience; I felt akin to Martin Luther King and his cause. I didn't want to leave this sacred place. Birthquakes started erupting on my insides during the rest of the weekend. It compelled me to take his message forward, but I had no clue, how to do it? After having this experience, my mind could not focus on the convention topics and I was happy to return home.
The following weekend, my grandson and I visited the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Visiting both Halls of Fame inspired me to reminisce about the music and famous players from my past. Viewing the exhibits and listening to the commentaries jarred me, sending shock waves surging through my body. It never occurred to me; there would be very few women in the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame and no women in the Football Hall of Fame.
Amongst hundreds of trophies and awards at both Halls of Fame, few were in honor of women's contributions revealing how seldom women honor themselves; or expect to receive awards for their contributions. It angered and motivated me to take action. I realized the negative impact on women, girls and our families when women do not honor themselves or expect to be honored by others. It propelled me to formulate a vision, a vision of honoring women in a global manner for their contributions to their families, their work, their communities, and the world. This powerful two-week experience became the birth of "Honoring Women Worldwide Avenue". It has altered the course of my life and stimulated a profound chain of events that I am only beginning to understand.
The following month, I left an organization I strongly believed in; but no longer could participate in, planned a trip to Egypt to realize a lifelong dream and see six thousand years of history and ruins. And, I committed to a one-year study of "A Course in Miracles" to expand my spiritual life and make this dream come true.