Friday, June 25, 2010

CWLI (Chattanooga, TN)

The first organization that I am meeting with is the Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute (CWLI). Maybe it’s the fact that I went to a women’s college, or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been asked no less than 7 times in one visit to Home Depot if I needed help with something—“honey, can I get that for you?” “are you looking for the paint section?” “are you sure that’s what you’re looking for?”—or maybe it’s the mind blowing stats about the number of teen moms in Buffalo (read the sixth bullet point) that are alone in providing for their children, but regardless, I feel a certain connection to women’s empowerment programs. Oh yeah, and I’m a woman…though some days I wouldn't know it with my carhartts and tool belt, up to my elbows in mud. This is not to say that there should not be men’s empowerment programs, because in fact, there probably should be. Men need as much encouragement in exploring non-traditional career paths as women do! Certainly not with the same priorities as women’s groups, but needed nonetheless.

In starting my search for this road trip, I had in mind a few people/orgs I wanted to interview: a) green/natural building companies b) non-profit community building groups and c) women-specific groups or businesses. Obviously, CWLI falls under category c.

CWLI is a non-profit organization that seeks to enhance women’s roles in our society by training leaders and coordinating women-only networking sessions, providing a comfortable atmosphere for females in which they can interact and see other women in successful career paths. For me, this seems important, though not totally (I think) in the way that they are approaching it. What seems most valuable is the inter-generational connection that this Institute could potentially provide.

The Women to Women Mentoring Program that is mentioned on their website that I thought I should mention in this post. From what I understand, the program takes women already involved in a career of some sort and engages them in training to become a mentor for other women. Beyond that though, it is unclear how these women further the idea of choice--of career, of partner, of whatever--and I do not see a mention of any real mentor program, just the mention of training mentors. What is the purpose of the group? To build equality among women or build women's role in society or helping individual women realize their potential or all of the above?

After reading through their website, I have a few more questions for CWLI:

  1. Does the organization actively pursue job placement for their members?
  2. Are eight 2-hour sessions enough for women to become mentors? And once they become mentors for other women, is there an established program that pairs people together? Or is it that they are just a mentor for other women generally in their everyday life?
  3. Who is their target audience? It says on their website, “women of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds,” but who realistically can get to the workshops, can pay the dues and attend networking sessions?

I guess we shall see the answers to all of these when I visit! Next installment: CreateHere, a placemaking/art organization that supports community artists, beautification, etc.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Planning Stages

I'm a curious person...despite the fact that "they" say that curiosity killed the cat; because really, I think that's a load of bull. Curiosity did not kill the cat; the lack of that 10th life did it in. Anyway, curiosity is what has driven me to start this blog. Not curiosity of how a blog works, but curiosity in other people, in social movements going on in the US, of green/natural building techniques, and of a woman's role in it all.

It is a blog of my journey around the United States, from Buffalo to New Mexico to Vermont and (eventually) back to Buffalo again. It is named "Stops Along the Way" because it is only in stopping and looking around that I will discover some answers to my curious mind. While I am traveling this next 8 months, I will try to highlight organizations, businesses and people I've met along the way. Praise people who GET IT and add thoughts about others that don't. This is a venue for observing, thinking about and questioning the way organizations and people in our society interact--generationally, socially, racially, religiously, economically, gender-wise, etc.--and a place to compile all this information so that I can look back in 8 months to reflect on how my perceptions have changed.

Below is the itinerary I have been planning for the first leg of the trip, from Buffalo out to Taos, New Mexico. For those of you not in the know, I am going out to Taos to learn about building Earthships. If you haven't seen the documentary Garbage Warrior, you should.

Buffalo --> Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati, OH --> Chattanooga, TN
Chattanooga, TN --> Nashville, TN
Nashville, TN --> Little Rock, AR (visiting my friend Acadia!!)
Little Rock, AR --> New Orleans, LA (uh oh...oil spill anyone?)
New Orleans, LA --> Dallas, TX
Dallas, TX --> Lubbock, TX? (not sure totally, but need a destination between Dallas and Taos...)
Lubbock, TX --> Taos, NM

In the future I will be posting about individual organizations that I am visiting. As you can tell, I am more than excited to get going on this journey! Hope you'll join me either in person (fly out to a destination and meet me for a few days) or by reading this blog. Please, please make comments on anything you find particularly interesting...