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Women: You have an idea. Yes, and…?

7 August 2012 No Comment

Jenna Paone

Jenna Paone
Boston, MA USA

“From that point forward, we were all hooked! We were hooked on working together as a collective of women who are powerful and active world citizens. We looked around, impressed by our achievement and asked ourselves, ‘Yes, and what’s next?!’”

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There’s a basic theater principle that every actor who steps into an improvisation class learns: the rule of “yes, and?” What it means, essentially, is that in order to be a good “improv”-er, you’ve got to support your scene partners. So, for instance, if you step on stage and your partner says “We’re on the moon!” you don’t say, “No, you idiot, we’re in the grocery store.” You say, “Yes, we are on the moon, and we’re going to have some fun with this lack-of-gravity thing.” You keep the ball rolling, you keep the story going.

When it comes to taking a leadership role in enacting change, we always hear women making statements like, “I don’t know where to begin” or “I have this idea that would make a difference…”   Here at Boston GLOW (Girls Leadership and Organized Women) we aim to provide a forum for women to share their ideas, equip themselves with tools and training, and connect to a network of dedicated and caring women leaders in Boston.  So you have an idea.  We say “Yes, and?”

The story of Boston GLOW as an organization shows how easily ideas can come to fruition. Once upon a time, I went to high school with our founder and social justice champion Leah Moschella, and co-Executive Board members AC Gaughen and Emily Copeman. Eight years after graduation, out of the blue, I received a call from Leah. She and AC (a young adult author) were planning a scholarship essay contest for Boston’s inner-city young women and needed to throw a fundraiser. They needed a musician. I happen to be one. I signed on, Emily came aboard, we called in volunteers and favors, put in a lot of late nights and long hours, and by the time the event was over we had raised enough money to fund our initiatives for an entire year. From that point forward, we were all hooked! We were hooked on working together as a collective of women who are powerful and active world citizens. We looked around, impressed by our achievement, and asked ourselves, “Yes, and what’s next?!”

"It may be a rainy day, but these faces GLOW!" Photo credit: Boston GLOW

The rest, as they say, is history. Now entering its third year, our annual IGNITE Change Contest continues to help teenage girls from under-supported Boston neighborhoods raise their voices and achieve their educational goals. We have awarded over $15,000 in scholarships and provided 18 young women with career and writing mentorship from women in their communities. Our Organized Women programming has collected over 5000 volunteer hours with over 100 active volunteers.  Our Spitfire series, a monthly event, creates networking opportunities for women across a broad range of professional, social, and ethnic backgrounds, all of which are shaped around a useful and fun educational component. We stage a yearly production of The Vagina Monologues for V-Day, host documentary screenings, crafting nights, and educational field trips for our Ignite Change finalists. We track the women we help go to college, learn new skills, and work to close the gender gap. Most importantly, we provide a structure within which women of all ages can connect to discuss the issues they care about, where they can promote work they’ve done or projects they’d like to make happen.

Really, at the end of the day, isn’t connecting with one another the key to positive change? By reaching across cultural and socioeconomic boundaries—by the simple act of working to understand someone else—don’t we make the world a better place? You can’t hate when you understand. You can’t hate when you sympathize. You can’t hate when you empathize. You can’t destroy when you recognize the work it takes to build (or actually, you can, but that’s the beauty of choosing not to)!

We believe that all people, including women and girls of all ages, have a responsibility to share and act on ideas that could create a better reality for our global community. It is this basic sense of responsibility that we foster at Boston GLOW.

So, you have an idea. We say, “Yes, and…?” Keep the ball rolling, keep the spark going!

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The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Peace X Peace.

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