This Little Candle of Miiiiiine: I’m Gonna Share it Onliiiiiine

Well, folks…I just hit “send” on an email, signaling that it’s that time of year again: preparation season for International Women’s Day 2014! Woot woooot.

Last year’s collective sporting of a pro-women t-shirt was the best yet: 87 women, men, & youth ordered shirts from 15 states & 4 countries and raised $650 for The Girl Effect. See our shirts from 2011, 2012, and 2013. 🙂


The 2014 Design
My work in youth development this year has sparked interesting dialogue about inclusion and what it means to be an “ally.” Because of that, I wanted this year’s shirts to promote an incredible woman’s message that can both honor the progresswomen have made (and continue to fight for) AND speak to struggles and causes many of us hold dear to our hearts that perhaps aren’t defined solely by our biology.

The powerful words that 16-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai used to address the UN General Assembly in fall 2013 have brought this year’s IWD t-shirt vision to life:

We realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. – Malala Yousafzai

The 2014 IWD T-Shirt Designs are here!

The 2014 IWD T-Shirt Designs are here!
Option 1: Fitted Next Level Jersey T-Shirt


The 2014 IWD T-Shirt Designs are here!
Option 2: Non-Fitted Anvil Ladies Jersey T-Shirt

 Order your shirt now using this Google Order Form.
Shirt orders AND payments must be received by Monday, February 10!
Click each fit
to view sizing charts: fitted and non-fitted

Our 2014 Non-Profit
This year’s beneficiary takes action for inclusion and using people’s voices to call attention to something that is broken. The Representation Project launched a 2011 campaign that called attention to the unfair portrayals of women in media through its film, Miss Representation. It has since expanded its own mission, aiming to get “all of us working together, girls and boys, women and men, to ensure equality and justice for all.” True to their word, the upcoming The Mask You Live In documentary will explore hypermasculinity and the perpetual harm that one-dimensional, stereoptypical media portrayals cause youth (and society at large).

Ordering Yours (Or a Friend’s!)

  • DEADLINE: Some of our sisters didn’t receive shirts in time for March 8 last year because of tight deadlines and late payments. I am asking that everyone place their orders AND have money to me by no later than Monday, February 10. The earlier, though, the better!
  • ORDER FORM: This year, we’re streamlining things and asking shirt-wearers to place their orders using this Google Form. You can fill out your name, all fits/sizes, your payment method, and any shipping information in one convenient place!
  • PAYMENT: I ask that you pay upfront. I gladly take cash and check payments in person. Online payment services (PayPal, Chase QuickPay, PopMoney, etc.) save you time/stamps, and I can send instructions for any new users.
  • DELIVERY: If you don’t live in Chicago, I’m happy to ship a shirt your way! I ask that anyone wanting shirts shipped to them add $3 to the cost of each shirt. Nothing is cooler than having people WORLDWIDE wearing identical shirts on March 8; I’d love to hit even MORE cities this year!

Happiness, Us & Them

“Making yourself happy is the most rewarding experience one can strive for. Set a goal, and work towards it. Do not let anything get in your way. I’m not telling you to abandon your responsibilities, but if a change needs to happen…systematically make your way towards it. When you love something, it should be pursued relentlessly.” – Fox Clearing

Yeah, but…when do we decide if our happiness is selfish and detrimental to the happiness of others? When we follow impulses and revelry rather than long-term and well-sustained, intentionally-crafted happiness?

Read Fox’s full article and help me sort out my thoughts about others’ expectations of our happiness and how to liberate ourselves from those chains without stunting our own growth or deferring our personal dreams. (Please.)

My Most Favorite Favorite

She: (looking at snow pouring down outside on Monday night) It would be so nice to be snowed in somewhere in Maine or something. I just love being cozy inside!

He: Do you like being outside?

She: (thinking) Yes.

He: It sounds like you just like being alive. That’s a good thing.

Bookin’ It

That’s it– I’m making a return to the #26books movement and making time for pleasure reads this calendar year. And I’m taking a page (haHAAAAA!) out of Jack Whitty’s book (read: Tumblr) by keeping a book list of my own on here as well as on #26books (provided that I or someone else can still recover the password from somehwere; MF? Delames? Kel? Al Hal?).

I hope I don’t embarrass myself by not following through on this. 😉 And I also hope that this guilts me just enough that I end my 2013 habit of picking up a book, reading 40 pages, feeling unentertained by all content everywhere, and putting it down with its enclosed bookmark to start another book, only to return to the initial book 5-8 months later and wonder where to/if I should pick it up again.

1) The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri (291 pgs)

Boom shaka! It was awesome, by the way. Special thanks to the awesome woman whose little boys I babysit on the reg who lent me the delicious novel.

You’ve Got to be Manly

I’ve been thinking a lot about masculinity lately.

Well, let’s be honest, I’ve been thinking a lot about masculinity since high school, when I was first bitten by the women’s studies/gender studies bug, but something in the past few months has caused a resurgence in me.

Maybe it was the office Lunch & Learn one of my colleagues hosted, having us read this article, this article, and this article to discuss the gender spectrum and how we are (and are not) being inclusive enough in our field of work to those who identify outside of the dichotomy that is currently engrained into all people from day one.

It could’ve started when I heard the re-airing of the NPR story highlighting inner-city Baltimore youth’s slang that, for once, absolves the highly-divisive (in my opinion) use of gender-neutral singular terms…and perhaps also inadvertently could provide a non-masculinized plural alternative to “you guys.”

Then again, there was an old friend/role model whose blog has become one of my favorite regular reads, who works in higher ed right in my backyard, whose mid-November post called into question how we nurture & embrace young men (specifically, young black men) to step outside of those expectations and into the skin they actually feel comfortable in.

Perhaps it is the anticipation I felt when I first discovered and watched the trailer for the other (boy-centered) side of the MissRepresentation coin that will hopefully open the dialogue to more diversified, honest, intentional depictions of all people in our sources of media and everyday life. Or, along the same lines, this video campaign to men to get their “masks off” and be who they really are.

Or, most recently, maybe it was two of the internet contributions I checked out today: a poet’s ironic depiction of masculinity which ends with a call for togetherness, and a post about 7 ways men can challenge and redefine what it means to be “masculine” in their daily interactions & relationships. (I’ve listed a VERY abridged version of the article below– mostly just listing out the 7 points– but highly encourage you to read the whole thing if you have a few minutes. And, full disclosure for my ladies out there, I think all of these things are habits that wouldn’t hurt us tuning more into in 2014, too!)

Regardless, I’ve been thinking a lot about this issue (and I very deliberately choose that word over “topic”) because of the impending bombardment of posts on my various social media platforms regarding the International Women’s Day shirts I help produce each year, and I’ve got some thoughts about how these items above might just cause me to start singing a slightly altered tune for 2014’s efforts. Perhaps I’ll try something in the keys of F and M.

– – – – – –

From “#BeThatGuy: 7+ Everyday Ways Men Can Transform Masculinity” by Jamie Utt:

1. Listen More – “When we are constantly asserting ourselves into space, we are constantly in a state of vulnerable power, one where we exert power over others to hide the fact that silence and listening can be terrifying.”
2. Show More Loving Affection – “We don’t really show affection to women who we are not in a relationship with or who are not immediate family members, and we almost never show loving affection for other men. Thus, men have a responsibility to change this.”
3. Make Enthusiastic Consent a Daily Value – “As I came of age in my sexuality, I was taught that consent was something very specific: If she (because it was never taught in a gender-neutral way) says no or stop, that (probably) means you don’t have consent and (probably) should stop. Needless to say, my consent education was—well—lacking.”
4. Cultivate Nonviolence – “Though violent crime has been steadily declining in the United States and Canada, men are more likely to be victims of every form of violent crime except sexual assault, and men are three times as likely to be murdered than women…Though it’s not often framed this way, violence is a men’s issue.”
5. Be More Inclusive – “Though it might look a bit different from iteration to iteration, the politics of male social order been built upon exclusion.
6. Giggle More – “When’s the last time you saw a man that you admire and respect fall to the floor in a fit of giggles (especially that wasn’t induced by someone else’s pain, getting hit in the nuts, or because of some humor that excludes other people)?”
7. Teach Our Youth – “If we want to transform masculinity and if we want to offer men agency in how they express their full selves, we have to start with our young people.”

Something to Believe In


This simple, matter-of-fact tweet crossed into my awareness after my friend Alex tossed a LRT my way on Twitter 3 days ago. And Mr. Billy Baker of the Boston Globe followed through on his promise, as I’ve chronicled below in tweet-by-tweet form so as not to ignore his incredible delivery over the course of 2+ hours.


Curious about Emmett and the DYC? I was, and if you’re the same, you can read more about them here.


“Emmett told them there story was important.” UGH. YES. More of this for our young people, please.






Billy, you have brilliant sentiments to share. Have you ever thought about doing more asset-based community development work? Because we need people who see all of these experiences— all of these RELATIONSHIPS we build through our work— as mutually beneficial and as gifts of presence & teaching.


To read the article in full, click here.

To watch Lauren‘s video, click here.


Another UGH from me, the campy, sappy peanut gallery. My heart is bursting at this point…



(Please excuse my favorites & RTs that may show up on a few tweets; I couldn’t help but earmark them for myself to revisit at a later date.)


I think about this often, especially when it comes to working with my talented guys at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center. My job enables me to do so much— for starters, to gain access to a facility and a population of people that I otherwise would never be able to have contact with— but are there restraints on my work and my magis that would look different if I weren’t there because of job responsibilities (read: expectations)? This is one of the biggest ideas I struggle with when contemplating pursuing an MSW.


This reminds me of the language L’Arche founder Jean Vanier uses, particularly in Becoming Human. He refers to all of us as being broken or having brokenness, and yet we aren’t able to fully love until we recognize others’ brokenness and our own as what it means to be human and what it means to form honest, authentic relationships. They had cracks, that’s all…


…and in helping them fill their cracks, George & Johnny filled Billy’s, too. Even if those filling processes looked and felt very different.




Stay on them.

Stay in touch.

Ask questions.

So i did.






. . . . . . . . .he’s starting to make ME nervous, for God’s sake.


. . . . . . . . .IS IT FIVE O’CLOCK YET?!?!?!?!


(I don’t think I need to confirm in writing that the welled-up tears in my eyes are spilling over my lids at this point, do i? Ok, good.)


OH MY GOD! GEORGE GOT INTO YALE!!!!! I’m dying all over everything. My entire being is electrified at the idea of this kid’s dream (and bloody hard work) propelled him to this point where his dream came true. He’s going to YALE!!!



Not in the “bootstraps” kind of way, I hope. I’m taking this as a “he helped himself by envisioning what he wanted and working tirelessly in that direction until it WAS his LIFE.” This is about seeing the beauty and truth of a dream and trusting in the workings of the Universe. At least it is for me.



“It’s a story a bout what’s right when we spend too much time writing about what’s wrong.” And news flash, for people who haven’t noticed it: “writing about” isn’t the only time we focus on what’s wrong. Thinking, talking, sharing, watching, targeting, hypothesizing about. We need to start this shift of staring with what IS working, what IS breeding compassion and success and a stronger, more inclusive society where individuals can bring their ideas to fruition no matter (or perhaps because of) what their story up to that point holds.

You can click here to read more about my thoughts on how often we complain and what we can do to inspect our own behaviors. You can click here to see a gem of a resource my hometown (#CLElove!) uses to spread the good news that combats the horrible image that many other people/places have crafted for us without our say. And/or, you can go spread the good news of your day’s joy(s) to someone nearby who looks like they could use a reminder of goodness that lurks around every corner if only we have the eyes to see it and the heart to celebrate it.




(Side note: Billy mentions in a tweet at some point that George had no idea he’d been sharing this entire story until he suddenly got TONS of new followers because of this simple RT that Billy added to his timeline. Oh, social media.)



This is the most normal and awesome grounding fact to throw in there. Both of the day’s events were pretty exciting to George, I’m sure.



I’m going to use this as another parallel for my JTDC dudes. The other day when we were having our quarterly wrap-up interviews with our young incarcerated composers, one young man said that he would still take a class with us if it were just a keyboard class, and he would even take a BALLET class if that’s what we offered. When we asked why, he said, “It’s just another opportunity. Why not?”

I think I have a few things to learn from these wise sages walking around in teenage bodies.

A Gust(er) of Fresh Music

I have so much more I can say (always), but right now I’m too busy jamming to non-Christmas live renditions of my boys Guster tearing it apart with the Redacted Symphony.

Gotta go.

You should, too.

Shamelessly plugging the workings of Noisetrade.

Wanna be Q.U.E.E.N.? Start acting like it.

If women are to become free agents of their gender’s destiny in music, in a music world which is reliant upon shouting loudest over the clamor, it stands to reason that online pissing contests only serve to detract from the strong messages being put forward by such artists like Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu. Their recent collaboration on “Q.U.E.E.N.” is an eloquent and impassioned rallying cry for what Monae identifies as “everyone who’s felt ostracized and marginalized.” And yet it is women that she addresses most specifically in the track, ending with the line,

“Electric ladies, will you sleep, or will you preach?”

This speech by Charlotte Church is hitting so much on the head in terms of where (and why) sexuality has intersected with the music, video, and performance scenes over the past several decades. Which artists and which instances use it as a conversation that is empowering, non-degrading to any sex or gender, and worthy of the “art” label? And, regardless of that question, should young people be exposed to these things or should we be more careful about how we portray our bodies & messages instead of celebrating them (OR berating them) with media coverage, social media chatter, and tasteless slut-shaming language that still catches the attentions & imaginations of even our youngest music lovers?

Ultimately, it does not need to be like this. Sex can be art: look at Bjork’s “Vespertine,” a highly-sexual and sensual record by a woman entirely in control of her career and of sex. The same can be said for almost every Prince record, and should be. Both are artists, adults, and human beings intelligently addressing a human subject, not exclusively a male one.

– – – – – –

Special thanks to Charlie for sending Church’s words my way this week.

  • You can worship at the altar of Erykah Badu & Janelle Monae here by listening to their afore-mentioned song, Q.U.E.E.N.
  • You can ALSO hear this explosively gorgeous raw cover by 3 gifted Tennessee-born musicians here. (Singing starts at 1:15.)
  • Lastly, you can enjoy the incredible quick wit & multi-faceted talent of Badu by listening to her on NPR’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me.

Channeling all things Dan Zadra

If you want trust, trust others. If you want respect, respect others. If you want help, help others. If you want love and peace in your life, give them away. If you want great friends, be one. That’s how it works.


-Dan Zadra

It’s the little things, the constant unexpected reminders that we stumble across while attempting to do other things during our manic days of work-work-work-rush-talk-talk-hurry-deadline-late-deadline-frantic-redo-obey.

Four Unrelated Thoughts for Sunday Morning, MD-style

Inspired by MoJo’s article this morning, I have 4 thoughts I would like to share:

1. Stop doing things you like saying you do and start spending time doing the things that you’ll go crazy if you don’t do— the things that make your heart beat fast and your spirit catch on fire. If you’re doing other things, you’re probably wasting your (and others’) time and you’re DEFINITELY wasting the magic that lives within you. Don’t do that anymore. It’s stupid to waste anything when life is happening so quickly all the time. I am thrown back into that Howard Thurman quote: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

2. Be a kinder stranger. I have so many little arteries of conversation and discussion and observation feeding into this one today, so I’ll share just a few highlights:

  • Today, I was riding my bike home from a late-morning patio hangout and saw an elderly man sitting slumped over and looking very confused. On either side of him, though, was a couple with grocery bags who must have also noticed him just a minute or two before I rode past; they were checking his pulse, helping him sit up straight and trying to figure out what sort of help he needed and who could provide that help to him.
  • I saw this on Facebook today and it made me think about how convinced so many people are that there is a limit to how much we can/should love in this world. I understand that I come from a different philosophy than many others on this, but I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment and hope that (if nothing else) it is thought-provoking for those who may not.

  • Earlier this week, my good friend Charlie and I were having a very important conversation about brokenness and disconnectedness and why we’ve become socialized into thinking that we shouldn’t interact with or be present to those who exist in public with us. This is a fairly recent phenomenon both of us have realized within ourselves and both are trying to actively combat by talking to at least one new person a week that we don’t “need to engage with, in the most basic and least meta way (if they aren’t checking me out at Target or if they aren’t calling him on the phone). He then sent me this message on Facebook as a follow-up:

Just got back from a run in the rain (the best) and had a nice experience with a new friend Steve. Steve was one of only 3 people I ran past on my run and apparently everyday Steve stands on the side of the road and asks people for money as they exit Lake Shore. I ran over to him and talked with him about his ‘spot’ and a few of the challenges he has worked through. Not sure if I made Steve’s day better- but he did have a smile on his face as I left. And when I ran past him again on my way home, we pointed at each other because now we’re old friends.

3. Prepare your own food more often. It’s that thing where we’re overweight, undernourished, and full of cancerous things, all because we eat things from unknown sources that are both harmful to us and to our planet. Be an advocate for sustaining your own health and Mother Nature’s awesomeness by checking out local farmer’s markets, chatting up the farmers themselves to hear about their philosophies (as a reminder, see #2), and voting with your food budget. We support what we fund, and right now we’re probably feeding our hard-earned money into some less-than-honorable systems & priorities. When we choose to buy fresh & local, we are also choosing to slow our evenings down and prepare our nourishment with patience, care, & curiosity. Prepping food not only slows me down and forces me to have Molly time, but it also makes me more mindful of the day’s information I need to process more fully & the emotions I am allowing myself to consume (or that are consuming me).

4. Be honest.  When I was working for PeaceWorks 2 years ago, I learned that Gandhi– one of the most famous practicers of nonviolence in global history– created a new word to discuss the pursuit of justice through active resistance: satyagraha. This translates into “insistence on truth,” and it implies that, truly, the least-violent way to interact with others is to speak your truth as you experience it and also seek THEIR truth in order to be as close as one can be to enlightenment. I don’t know why so many people operate in the realm where little white lies are more acceptable or polite, but at some point doesn’t that become destructive, both to those of us bearing the burden of our little white lies and to those receiving our words who are thus assumed to be incapable of handling the reality of truth? I’m trapped in this idea, too, but it’s something I would like to release myself from and hope others I’m close to in my life will challenge themselves to do the same.

– – – – – –

Bonus 5th: In case you don’t read the (pretty brief) MoJo piece, I’ll share a thought-provoking excerpt from their #3:

Poverty and education. From Matt Bruenig: “Let’s focus our attention on [the claim] that education is a way to reduce poverty. In fact, we have dramatically ramped up educational attainment in the US in the last forty years or so and poverty has not taken a dive. As a basic logical matter, being more educated doesn’t make you less poor. Having more money makes you less poor. So education, even if you think it is necessary, is not sufficient to end poverty. You need distributive institutions that actually generate a specific distributive result, and education is certainly not sufficient for ensuring that happens. A more educated populace will probably be more productive, but that too — as we have seen for the last four decades — is not sufficient for ensuring the gains of such productivity increases flow to the non-rich. Education is good, but sufficient for solving poverty it is not.”