March 8 is the day! Next Wednesday. What will you be doing to celebrate? How do you acknowledge the work of women in your life and around the world? Doesn't it always seem like these things need more than a day or a month? Shouldn't every day be all things? There have been rumblings for a while about a strike and we've been thinking about this a lot - indeed, we had practice for this moment during the Wisconsin protests of 2011 - the picture above was taken back then. (love that graphic!). At that time, our business was so new - I suppose we could have gone on strike against ourselves for not paying ourselves enough.
What does it mean for us as business owners? What does our labor mean? or protest? or strike? For that matter, surrounded as we are by so many hard-working and amazing women, well, frankly, I am well aware of how everything would just grind to a halt if women weren't working. That is as well the case if women weren't shopping. And I realize that I might be spending a lot of time thinking of efficacy and efficiency, but, particularly in light of the way Scott Walker's tenure just drags on and on, the way actions we take are twisted and used as weapons against us, I think a lot about how I can maximize the good and counter-effect of my work in the world. I understand you can't spend all your time second-guessing your actions or trying to judge them based on possible outcomes or misinterpretations (or, for that matter, criticism from people who are apparently working out of a completely different "reality") but I have to make my choices based on... it is not a matter of what I am comfortable with, I don't mind being uncomfortable. But I do have some sense of caution, that my action be grounded in being true to myself.
And who am I? Well, I'm a Capitalist. There, I said it. I say this often, I know, but I don't think everyone realizes all the implications. It means that we made this choice to participate in a system which, though we believe has many flaws, we also believe is how we can be effective. We use the system to achieve our goals, our goals of facilitating creativity in ourselves and our customers and our vendors. We act upon our belief in Capitalism by marshaling the money that we make for good - as we send it back into the community, as we direct it towards other businesses and non-profits. I'm definitely not the kind of person who can live off the grid. I like the things that money buys and I really believe that it has power to accomplish good things. In that respect then, I feel like we have more power and effect by participating in the system, not by absenting ourselves from it. I am well aware that other people feel differently and there are calls to bring Capitalism to its knees through a general strike but I simply wouldn't have opened a store if I didn't have this underlying belief in the good that Capitalism can do. So, yes, we will be open on March 8.
However, in honor of the work that women do, in recognition that so many women are denied their full humanity - their ability to create, their ability to participate, to learn, to grow, to shape the world in wonderful ways, we are going to be donating the day's sales to two organizations who work locally with women.
In all honesty, there are so many organizations and people doing really great work out there, finding ways to help women reach their full potential, it is hard to choose. We have some of our usual organizations that we donate to which focus mostly on young women but we decided to help organizations that help women at particularly difficult points in their life. The first organization is Domestic Abuse Intervention Services. We are impressed by their dedication to safety, hope, justice and peace for domestic abuse survivors (mainly, but not exclusively, women) and their families. At this moment in time when there is such a culture of fear and threat, we appreciate their work to overcome violence perpetuated on others. The second organization is the Backyard Women's Mosaic Project, which provides safety and creativity and opportunity for women to discover and develop artistic skills as they return to their families and community from incarceration. The way this country has squandered the human capital of so many people is really a great loss to us as a nation, to our communities and to families. At this moment when it seems like only certain people are allowed the success and rights that are supposedly granted to all, when so many forces are acting to divide and separate us, we appreciate their work to instill a sense of creativity and connection.
On a tangential note: not to be a hammer looking at all problems in terms of hammers/nails, but the lack of response from Congresspeople is rather annoying and stumping. Ron Johnson took out a restraining order? Most aren't even holding sessions open to the public? There seems to be a very limited idea of who their constituents are and what is being asked of them. Anyway, here's my thought. In addition to postcards or potatoes or phone calls; is there a way we can wield our power as consumers more? Would calls or contact with businesses in districts lend more weight to the matter? On the one hand, I object to the power that businesses have to shape legislators' minds; on the other hand, why should Ron Johnson only hear from businesses who want lower taxes? What about the businesses who understand that paying taxes is the price they willingly pay? You know, the Bill Penzey's of the world? There are more of us than just us and him. SO I guess what I am saying is don't be shy about sharing your stories and moving your money. If you are a business owner, definitely write to your legislators from that perspective; if you are a customer, there are gentle and friendly ways to communicate to businesses your concerns. What would that start to look like? If, for example, all the farmers who rely on migrant labor started contacting Paul Ryan? If outdoor recreation businesses started contacting senators about the EPA? Well, these are just thoughts rumbling around in my head and you can tell I come to them from my Capitalist bent. But I firmly believe that we as a nation, as communities, and businesses, profit from things that are being overlooked and undermined by this administration. Talk of a general strike centers around bringing the economy to its knees, but what about making it work for what we want to see of this country?
And you? How will you celebrate? and speak and act and organize? how will you give thanks? We totally understand if part of your action includes not participating in Capitalism on March 8. We have our eye on some new spring dresses from our next door neighbors at Serrv, who are working to empower women around the world, and some loans through Kiva and some Madison community investment organization that I wrote down on a little slip of paper and now can't find.
And, of course, we will have buttons. Someone kindly gave me a heads' up this Saturday. She called to ask if we had buttons, feeling that she cannot go on strike (at least most women have some sense of their indispensability I hope) but wants to support and represent on Wednesday. Made this one up special: