1st Annual Honoring WomenWorldwide StateCapitolGardenParty, June 20, 2009
YES, WE CAN THRIVE!
Nancy Stephan,Founder and Executive Director
The day was perfect, seeing thecapitol in the background was stunning. The SuffrageGardenwas gorgeous, alive, and a powerful setting to discuss how women can thrive ina world of massive change.We were honoredto have five of the top women in our state as speakers and panelists. Several Minnesota leaders alsoattended as participants.
Thanks to Amy Klobuchar U.S.Senator, Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Speaker of the House, Patricia Torres Ray,State Senator, Karen Diver, Chairwoman, Fond Du Lac,Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Sue Hammersmith, College President ofMetropolitan State University for making this an outstanding experience.
Three amazing female performersof Mu Daiko Japanese Taiko Performing Arts announced the opening of the partyby playing their powerful and miraculous drums on the corner of Cedar Street and Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King Boulevard.This profound and electrifying drumming sound; signified the party had begun;calling women and men to meet in the Women’s Suffrage Garden.
A magnificent scene and historicevent is the first to occur in the Women’s Suffrage Garden at Minnesota’s State Capitol. This carefully designed and unique latticedmemorial wall faces, Cedar Street.Integrated into the lattice design are plaques with heartfelt messages, Minnesota women’s names,and others who worked so hard to allow women the right to vote and build thisbeautiful Garden. Colorful flags of manycountries and the Honoring Women Worldwide banner adorned the inside of the gardenwall. Being in this beauty and positive energy; created an inspiring,captivating and honoring experience.
Betsy Stites, HWW Board Chair provided some history of howthe SuffrageGarden got started and is beingmaintained. Barbara Stuhler was thedriving force behind both the original garden and the renovation. Her lobbyingat the legislature led to the appropriation for the garden. She helped raisefunds for the renovation. A granite bench inscribed in Barbara’s honor is inthe garden. It says: "Our thanks to Barbara Stuhler, 1924 – 2007.Passionate advocate for women’s political rights, author, historian and ‘rainmaker’for this memorial garden"
An historian and author of “Gentle Warriors, Clara Uelandand the Minnesota Struggle for Woman Suffrage” played a large role to createthe garden.Ruby Hunt, SallyRoss and The Ross Group raised considerable funds to help renovate thegarden after the original garden failed. Ruby is a former long-time RamseyCounty Commissioner. Nancy Stark, executivesecretary of the state Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board,has been very involved in both the original and renovated garden projects. Shehas been working with an artist to improve readability of the text tables thattell the suffrage story near the garden metal screen. The St. Paul Chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta Alumnaemembers are still maintaining the garden.
More than 100 women, men, andchildren gathered on this beautiful Minnesotasummer day to honor and celebrate the roles, gifts, contributions and wisdomwomen bring to our world. Many wore hatsand bright colored clothing to add to the energy, enjoyment and beauty of theday, a spectacular site. See photos on www.honoringwomenworldwide.org,past events.
Nancy Stephan, Founding ExecutiveDirector enthusiastically welcomed everyone to the Garden Party. Barbara McAfee, International song writer andvocalist sang the Honoring Women Worldwide song recorded in 2008. Sue Hammersmith, President, MetropolitanStateUniversity and member ofHonoring Women Worldwide read her insightful and provocative poem, Everywoman,In Black and White.
By Sue Kiefer Hammersmith, President, MetropolitanStateUniversity, St. Paul, MN
Dedicated to Terri Houston, Vicki GardineWilliams, and Maxine Waters
Whitesisters, you starve yourselves to death.
Youwant to be but a wisp.You have novoice.
Yourmothers raised you on fairy tales of passive beauty
Rescuedby a stranger prince.They had nochoice.
Whitesisters, you hide your extra pounds in dark,
IdolizeTwiggy’s skin and bones, and Jackie’s not much more,
Whoselittle-girl voice concealed her soul.You wither on
Your vine, andcalled us “slaves”?
Wakeup, woman!Listen to my mother!Kidnapped,
Raped,abandoned—but never quite destroyed.
Neverenslaved in spirit.She carries herselfwith dignity.
Hername is Strong.
Herbeauty is born of the African sun, her strength
ofstruggles she survived.And she haspride.
Herpounds are hers, and if they come, she wears them proud
Withcolor and adorned.
Hermother taught her how to rear her young and work
Andkeep her soul.She had no choice.
Shetaught her to try harder, be better, endure more,
Topray and listen to the inner voice.
Shehas roots to the center of the universe
And aspirit that will not fade, nor hide.
Herpresence, like the pyramids, assumes its place
Onearth with awesome pride.
Findher, white girl.She can be yourteacher, if you will,
Nourishyou, encourage you.
Listento her strong almighty voice.And takeyour rightful place
AsSisters under the Sun.
To ensureeveryone was seen and heard; participants were asked to create a large Honoring Circlearound the peripheral of the Garden to connect their hearts and hear fromeveryone their name and one word that means thriving to them. It was abeautiful representation of ages from 5 to 80, backgrounds, ethnicity, cultureand location in Minnesota.Each stepped to the microphone and engaged in the community building exercisewith enthusiasm. It was a beautiful and energizing experience. Yvette Trotman,HWW Executive Council Member, college professor, dance instructor and trainergot the women up dancing and moving to get into the energy with music from Trinidad.
SueHammersmith, President, Metropolitan State University as moderator, engaged thepanel Margaret Kelliher, Speaker of the House, Patricia Torres Ray, Senator,Minnesota and Karen Diver, Chairwoman, Fond Du Lac, Band of Lake Superior,Chippewa in a lively and provocative discussion about where women are today andwhat we can do to make the necessary changes for women to thrive.
MargaretAnderson Kelliher, Speaker of the House, talked about the encouragement shereceived from her Dad to get an education, and participate in politics. Shestrongly inspired women to take a stand and get involved; to be heard, seen andmake a difference. Margaret announced she will be running for Governor ofMinnesota next term.
PatriciaTorres Ray, Senator talked about the calls she receives daily from women whohave lost their homes due to illness or misfortune…heartbreaking stories. Hermessage: it’s time for women to partner, help one another and take care ofourselves and each other.
KarenDiver, Chairwoman, Fond Du Lac,Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, talked about the negative messages she receivedas a child, stating she would never amount to anything.She encouraged the audience not to listen,but make a choice to ignore negative messages, and focus their energy on thepositives and believe that they can do whatever they set their minds to do.Her engaging quiet power and relentlessmessage:it’s time in order to makeprogress, we must get involved. Then women were asked to form small groups toget acquainted and create some questions to ask the panel.
Havingall of these outstanding women speak at the Garden Party was a privilege…theywere courageous, wise, candid, funny, thoughtprovoking and sometimes a little sassy.
Lisa Ripken, Honoring Women Worldwide, Executive Council member,trainer and public speaker facilitated the question and answer period of theevent. The party closed with an HonoringCircle of all participants, where each person saidone word describing what they received from the event.Inspiring, uplifting, energizing, hopeful,caring, courageous were a few of the words describing their experience.
Thisevent would not have occurred without Amy Brenegan, Office of Economic Statusof Women OESW who helped us reserve the SuffrageGarden,contact the staff at the Capitol to set up all the equipment and make the day asuccess. We thank all of the volunteers from Honoring Women Worldwide whoplanned the event, created the bag brunches and setup and took down the GardenParty. We especially thank Steve Shor and Dawn Vogel, our photographers who dida fabulous job capturing this event on film.
Basedon the positive feedback, HWW will hold the 2nd Annual Garden Partyat the State Capitol, SuffrageGarden in June 2010. Staytuned!