Witchy Woman: A Conversation with Healer and Tarot Reader, Holly Ramey

By: Alyssa Curran

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For the newly curious, the tarot conjures images of clairvoyant fortune tellers, crystal balls shrouded in smoke and secret ceremonies conducted by moonlight. The magic is seductive.

The history behind the practice and accompanying symbolism live up to this mystical narrative, but the realities of tarot readings today are more practical and healing in nature than bohemian folklore.

A novice to the practice, I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first tarot reading with Holly, but I was pleased to find the experience to be fulfilling. Holly guides a restorative conversation, much like a therapy session, letting the cards guide theme and dialogue. She is an empathetic listener and dynamic storyteller who facilitates natural connections between symbolism and reality. Maybe it’s the burnt sage or dimly lit space, but there’s something about the spellbinding energy that melts away walls and leads to meaningful discussion.

In this interview, I connected with Holly to talk about ways she utilizes the tarot deck as a therapeutic tool, her thoughts on the ever-growing healing community in Nashville, and why women, in particular, are drawn to these practices.

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When did you first started practicing yoga, reiki and tarot and how did these practices lead to your substantial career shift?

In 2008, I was working in sales in New York. I began practicing and teaching yoga as a way to relieve stress, and that practice was the gateway into the other mystical things.

Through practicing and teaching restorative yoga, I found reiki. I noticed that I could feel my clients’ energy in my hands when I was adjusting them. At that time, I didn’t know much about reiki. In fact, if you would have told me what it was I would have been skeptical. I signed up for a reiki session, and I could tell that my body was sensitive to this type of work. It came quickly into my life because it was the most natural thing that I’ve ever done. Even the process of teaching yoga took many years – to find my voice and to feel skilled enough to stand in front of a group of people and tell them what to do. With reiki, it was something where all I had to do was get out of my own way and feel the energy grow through my hands.

I discovered tarot in a similar way to reiki. I went to a local shop in Brooklyn and booked a session with tarot reader. I felt connected to the practice and, for the purpose of personal exploration, signed up for an intensive tarot study.  During that time, I was also in the process of opening a healing space in New York called Medicine Space. I started offering readings there. The more you read, the more the deck shows you. You start to see and recognize certain symbols and ways the deck speaks to you. I’ve come to learn that no one card ever has a hard and fast interpretation.

For those, like myself, who are still learning about these practices, can you briefly explain reiki?

Reiki is an energy healing treatment that works holistically on the whole body, mind and spirit. It is now being used in medical facilities throughout the US to relieve stress and pain, promote relaxation, release emotional blockages and balance our energy centers.

What about tarot? Give us the run-down.

Tarot shows you how to see situations in your life from a different perspective and can bring unprocessed emotions into light - therefore, helping you to move forward and often facilitating mental, emotional and spiritual release. 

I love tarot because it is a more specific tool to work with people. When I give reiki, I do feel specific blockages in the chakras that we can talk about. When I give a tarot reading, though, it can uncover a full range of human experience and human emotion. I don’t predict the future, but through the deck, I can help you see your situation through another lens.

A growing number of women across the country are becoming drawn to healing practices like yoga, reiki, crystals and tarot. Why do you think these are resonating with women, in particular?

When I think of the time we’re in it right now, I recognize that there’s a real movement for change. There’s a universal shift happening where we’re leaving the patriarchy behind and returning to a matriarchal time. Women are standing in their personal power. These practices: yoga, reiki, even tarot, allow women to rely on natural elements, and the power within their bodies, to heal themselves rather than relying on the system.

These practices have existed for long before this and they’ll exist long after these practices are en vogue. Medicine women and witches have used basic energies, intuition, and elements found in nature to heal themselves and heal others for centuries.

How would you describe the healing movement in Nashville compared to Brooklyn, where you practiced for many years?

You can’t swing a bag in Brooklyn without hitting a witch. These practices have had a strong-hold in New York for many years now, but here in Nashville there is a budding community that is interested in the work and has a hunger to dive into it deeper. There aren’t as many resources here, but I think that’s going to change over the next few years. In fact, I’m actively trying to help foster this change.

How would you recommend that a first-timer approach a tarot reading?

Tarot can be very therapeutic. In one reading, for example, you may be able to see what is going in your love life, your career, and your relationship.Bring an open mind and don’t be afraid of it. Tarot has interesting connotations and has historically been associated with practices like fortune telling and even devil worship, but I truly believe the symbols and archetypes are familiar to everyone and they transcend religion and specific beliefs about spirituality. Bring a clear intention of what you want out of the reading. Then try to be receptive to hearing some guidance.

Holly Ramey is an intuitive healer, tarot reader and yoga instructor based in Nashville. Connect with Holly on Instagram: @HollyDRamey, and read about her service offerings by visiting her website: http://www.hollydramey.com/.

To learn more about Holly, listen to her interview on our favorite podcast, Mirror Mirror Podcast.

A Conversation with Adrienne Kittos

Adrienne speaks with us about her career supporting immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers

By: Alyssa Curran

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Adrienne Kittos is the Legal Director for Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) and received her J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School. She has worked on behalf of clients at the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Immigrant Legal Clinic and Rose Immigration Law Firm in Nashville, Tennessee.

JFON provides affordable, immigration legal services to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

From the travel ban to The Dream Act to the DACA program, immigration reform is top-of-mind for many politicians, constituents and non-citizens, alike. I met with JFON Legal Director, Adrienne Kittos, to discuss issues that immigrants and refugees are facing here in Middle Tennessee, important legislation to keep tabs on, and ways we can help.

It’s clear that immigration reform is an important issue for many people in America. With many new ideas being discussed, what policies should we focus our attention on?

A lot of issues are being considered around immigration in Congress. One of the big areas of concern is the future of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. When that program ended in September, there’s been a lot of talk about that population: what’s going to happen to those young people who have had DACA, but now don’t have a way forward to get permanent residency (a green card) or U.S. citizenship?

There’s buzz around the possibility of a clean Dream Act. A clean Dream Act would be instituted without stipulations like the border wall add-ons or stricter limits and measures that would affect non-DACA immigration populations in U.S. A clean Dream Act is certainly a best-case scenario.

There’s also talk of a complete overhaul of the immigration system. This new system could be merit-based, where non-citizens would be awarded points for their education level, language fluencies, etc. There are dangers associated with this sweeping change. One potential negative impact would be that permanent residents and citizens would no longer be able to reunite with family members outside of the U.S. Right now, adult citizens may have the ability to bring a sibling or parent into the U.S., but under some new proposals, that would no longer be available.

Tell me about clients JFON serves and some issues facing immigrants and refugees in Middle Tennessee. 

At JFON, we provide low-cost immigration legal services, educate others about immigration to the U.S., and advocate for the rights and dignity of immigrants in refugees.

Right now, we’re in a unique period-of-time and we’re working with a lot of DACA recipients who wish to renew that grant. That renewal is available because of pending litigation allowing more DACA renewals. It is possible that this ability to renew will only be available for a limited time, and we can’t be sure for how long.

We continue to see U-visa cases. The U visa is a nonimmigrant visa which is set aside for victims of certain serious crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse. These cases are oftentimes associated with domestic abuse.

We do some work with the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This allows certain spouses, children, and parents of abusive U.S. citizens and permanent residents to file a petition for themselves, without the abuser's cooperation. This allows victims to seek both safety and independence from their abuser, who is not notified about the filing.

We’re also starting to do some asylum work. Asylum is available to someone who is facing persecution on race, religion, political opinion, national origin or membership in a social group. These might be people who are facing imprisonment because of the religion they choose to practice or whose ethnic group may be targeted for threats.

We also have a handful of family-based cases and green card renewals.  

Can you speak to the intersection between feminism and immigration? How are policies harming women in disproportionate ways? 

A lot of the clients we work with are survivors of domestic violence and the majority of those clients are women. Women may be more vulnerable to some of those more serious crimes that are prioritized within the immigration system. Within other parts of the system (family or employment-based) there are sometimes income requirements that privilege work outside the home, or a certain level of income, which can put women at a disadvantage.

How would you respond to someone who is more reluctant to support immigrant and refugee rights?

I think that there are real issues that underlie some of the concerns people have about our immigration system.  That being said, a lot of opinions that have born out of this issue are born out of a lack of knowledge about why people are coming to our country.

A question we hear a lot is, “Why don’t people just get in line?” Unfortunately, for many people, there’s not a line to get into. There’s not an ability for a person to come to the U.S. just because they want to “work hard and better their family.” There’s not a visa for that.

What the media doesn’t do a very good job of is personalizing stories – what immigrants and refugees are facing, what they’ve been through and what they’ll encounter as they navigate the immigration system. It’s easy to dismiss a faceless number without taking into account each story.

Immigrants and refugees are our neighbors and friends -- people with hopes and dreams just like the folks we go to school and work with.

How can we advocate for immigration reform and better serve refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants locally? 

Support and volunteer with any number of local organizations including JFON, Conexion Americas, and Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. One thing that’s neat about JFON model is that we seek to give volunteers an opportunity to sit down and have a meaningful conversation with an immigrant neighbor. That can be really transformative for someone who wouldn’t have this interaction in their day-to-day life. It’s important to connect with others in that way as we’re contemplating these big issues facing our country.

A Conversation with Marisa Richmond

By: Rachel Bubis

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Marisa Richmond is a transgender politician, activist, member of The National Center for Transgender Equality Board of Directors, the Trans Advocacy Network, and a lobbyist for the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition. She is also an active leader in the Democratic Party.

Hi Marisa. Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you got into politics?

My background is in academia. Both of my parents were college professors teaching Organic Chemistry and German.  My career is in history.  Both of my parents believed in social justice and equality, and exposed me to important ideas and people.  My mother took my sister and I out to see President Kennedy when he came to Nashville. When I waved at him, he smiled and waved back.  I became a political junkie at that moment.  A few years later, we hosted a fundraiser for the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee with Stokely Carmichael.  I didn’t know who he was at the time, but again, my parents exposed me to important people who were working to change the world.

As we approach the mid-term elections, what bills and/or candidates should we be looking out for?

In Tennessee, we have open seats for Governor, U.S. Senate, and in three U.S. House districts (2, 6, and 7).  I urge everyone to look at the candidates in those districts.  In addition, we have several state legislative seats open, and incumbents who need to be challenged and removed all across the state.  The filing deadline is April 5, and I know that outside of Nashville and Memphis, many progressives are looking for good candidates to run in those races.

There’s a lot of recent controversy surrounding our Nashville Mayor, Megan Barry. What do you say to people concerned about this recent news?

The only thing I have told others is that there should not be a double standard for women, and that I hope as these investigations go forward, that she will be exonerated.  I believe that, overall, she has been good for Nashville, especially the LGBTQ community, and has been a positive role model for young women and girls.

You’re participating in an upcoming  LGBT College Conference at MTSU with the theme, All Identities—Bridging the Divide, a dialogue on how to bridge divides based on identity. The conversation will be centered on how access and opportunity intersect with identity to influence our interactions with education, commerce, community, government, and, most importantly, each other. What do you hope people will take away from the event?

In the past, I have been concerned with making sure trans voices were included.  One year, I was the ONLY trans speaker, and I was a last minute addition to the schedule.  Furthermore, I hope to see more workshops on advocacy.  College students have made their mark over the years and have proven they can make a difference.  We should use the conference to help train future community leaders to take the reins.

Our country is clearly divided. Do you see anything really working to help bridge this divide or where do you see hope for this changing in the future?

I see hope coming from good people working to address real problems. Part of the division is exacerbated by politicians who focus on faux issues to scare people.  If our leaders were focused on making life safe and secure for all, we would all be better off.  More and more Americans are increasingly frustrated with the lack of response to gun violence, and are increasingly supportive of access to affordable health care.  The political leaders must listen or prepare to be replaced.

What do you think is the most important issue facing women in Nashville today?

Economic.  There is a real economic boom taking place here.  We need to ensure that it is equitable and that the benefits of that boom are shared by all.  Ironically, we are more successful in politics than ever before, but the business community is still woefully underrepresented by women.  The General Assembly has already shut down the Economic Council for Women, and it now targeting the Tennessee Human Rights Commission for an early sunset.  They just don’t care about equality.  While they are statewide agencies, they have an impact on women in Nashville.

What’s the biggest misconception about the transgender community? What do you think the biggest issue transgender Tennesseans are interested in today?

The biggest misconception is that trans people are dangerous.  That is why we keep seeing these crazy bathroom bills pop up around the country, including Tennessee, year after year. The biggest concerns of transgender Tennesseans are job opportunity and access to health care. Many simply want to work with dignity and take care of themselves, and have access to fully inclusive health care.  They also want to be free from fear of physical violence.  This is especially problematic for trans people of color, where hate crimes are most prevalent.

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I follow you on social media and have seen two photos I would like to ask you about: 1) A picture of you looking very cool wearing olympic rings sunglasses and a puka shell necklace. Where and when was this taken? What is your favorite Winter Olympic sport?

I bought the necklace at Nashville’s African Street Festival many years ago. It is one of my favorite cultural events each year.  I bought the sunglasses in Los Angeles at the 1984 Olympics.  The photo was taken during Nashville Pride in 2000, which coincided with the Opening of the Sydney, Australia Games that summer.  I prefer the Summer Games over the Winter Games because I have played a lot of the events in the Summer Games.  I have played soccer & basketball competitively.  Softball, which will be back in 2020 in Tokyo, is another sport I have played.  I was on my High School Track Team too, and I have done a lot of swimming, dating back to when I was 5 years old.  In the Winter Games, the only team sport is hockey, and the US women are one of the best teams along with Canada.  The men don’t have any NHL (namely Predators…)  this year, which I think is a mistake by the NHL owners and commissioner.  I also like the racing events: skiing, skating, and sledding.  I have done all three for recreation, but I am not good at any of them.  I prefer warm weather sports.

2) A picture of you shaking hands with Obama. What was that like? Was he wearing cologne?

That was taken at the White House LGBT Pride Reception in June 2011.  I also met Vice President Biden about an hour after the photo-op with the President.  The President was very pleasant and he listened as I spoke on behalf of the transgender community since I was the only trans person getting a one-on-one with the President that day.  When I realized that, I said to myself, “I am representing the whole (expletive deleted) country!”  And I was so starstruck by the moment, I have no idea if he was wearing any cologne.  I just remember my excitement when he put his arm around me, so I thought, “well, Michelle’s not here,” so I put my arm around him. That photo is probably in the White House archives.  I should try to get a copy.

A Conversation with Mary E. Walker

By: Rachel Bubis

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Mary Walker has experience on the national, state, and local levels serving women and children in the juvenile justice system and managing preventative programs for women and children at risk. Walker has been a practicing attorney for over twenty-five years - having served as General Counsel for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Tennessee, and Senior Referee for the Davidson County Juvenile Court. She was a founder of Renewal House, a long-term residential recovery program for addicted women and their children, and along with others helped launch A Step Ahead Foundation (Middle Tennessee Chapter), an organization that aims to prevent unintended pregnancies by providing FREE long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), the most effective reversible methods of birth control, to women in Middle Tennessee.

Below is a conversation with Rachel and Mary on her life, work, and mission:

Your experience as a social worker informed your decision to become a lawyer and later begin incredible organizations that support women in need such as Renewal House and A Step Ahead Foundation. Can you talk more about your background and what inspired you to help start these organizations?

My first job was with the State of TN as a social worker in child welfare investigating abuse and neglect, and when necessary, removing children from their homes and placing them in foster care and when no return to the home was possible, finding an adoptive home. My husband at the time was in the military, so I worked a lot with the military base, encouraging those families to be foster parents and adopt. After I got divorced, I went to UT School of Social Work to earn a Master’s Degree.  I  worked with children and families to increase the number of adoptive homes available for older children.  I worked closely with a private law firm that would come in the day of the hearing and represent the State using the materials I had developed to present the case to the judge. It finally occurred to me then that I should just become a lawyer myself. I’m better at this than these people (laughs). So, I went to UT College of Law in 1976.

Being a lawyer and social worker has provided me with an invaluable perspective in every job I have had. As a juvenile court referee, I handled all the abuse and neglect cases in Davidson County and I understood poverty and the needs of the children and the parents. I came away from that experience knowing that juvenile judges should be educated more than being a lawyer.   They really should be social workers or trained in child development and treatment modalities to make informed decisions. Very few judges had that background or education. From my social work experience I knew how important it is for a child to be with his or her mother. I knew what resources were available in the community and the importance of strong social work by the Department of Children’s Services. Some lawyers and social workers did not like my involvement, but the Judge backed me up on the new way of operating the court.

What else can you tell us about what you learned in court?

Through my work in juvenile court in 1992, I started noticing some trends. We had an overwhelming number of children coming in foster care because their mother was addicted to crack cocaine. The moms were older and some had jobs and homes, but lost everything as a result of their addiction.  Crack was new to Nashville and there were no long-term treatment options for women coming before the Court. The law required me to terminate those moms’ rights, and put kids up for adoption if they had not made any progress in a certain period of time towards getting clean.  The courts are required to offer services for women to be reunited with their children prior to termination of parental rights. Research shows that generally children are better off with their biological parents as long as they are safe and have their basic needs met. So, I started looking for addiction treatment resources, but there was nothing.

There was no place for these women to go. If they had insurance, the maximum treatment time was 10 days. I realized we needed a long-term treatment program where kids stayed with moms during that treatment.  There was only one place in the state where they had something like that and it was in East TN. When I started gathering statistics, I discovered almost every neglected dependent child I brought into custody, 85% of the time it was because of their moms being crack cocaine addicts. Because of lack of treatment resources and the addictive power of crack, the permanency options for the children were much reduced. Out of this crisis, the idea of starting Renewal House was born.

Now, the Renewal House is in its 21st year of operation and is the only one of its kind in the state. Women may stay at Renewal house with their children for 12 months or longer and undergo treatment together and have access to jobs and education. It’s very successful and has one of the lowest recidivism rates. During their time at Renewal House we offer opportunities for jobs and school and try to make the resources available to stay clean and be able to support their family. We are trying to access more higher paying jobs for our women and affordable housing, which is a real challenge in Nashville.

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Can you tell me about A Step Ahead Foundation (ASAF)?

A Step Ahead provides free IUD’s to women. ASAF started in Memphis, and as a result, over a three year period, they saw a 30% decline in unintended pregnancies. We have been offering services for 18 months here in Middle Tennessee and have given around 400 women free IUD’s and free transportation to the clinic.

There is clearly a growing women’s movement in response to the current social and political climate. We just had the Women’s March. It seems like every day in the news we are hearing about a new powerful man accused of harassment and assault.  What are your thoughts on the #metoo and #timesup movements? Are you optimistic about real change happening in the future?

I do think it’s going to make a big change in the work environment and I think the movement is really important. Men haven’t been held accountable for too long. The #metoo movement is a great first step because it allows women to feel brave enough to say something. I think the fact that people with such high stature in society are coming out with their stories will make a difference. There are no excuses left!

Have you experienced sexism or sexual harassment in your professional career? If so, how did you respond?

When I first started out as a lawyer in 1979 there weren’t that many women lawyers. That’s why we started the Lawyer’s Association For Women to provide support to women and to increase the number of women judges.  But yes, more than one time in the courtroom I have been addressed as “little lady” and “honey.” And one time in Winchester, TN, when I was defending a case as an Assistant Attorney General, the judge was belittling and asked if the “little lady from Nashville wanted to speak”, as if I would not have anything to say. I just don’t think he was used to seeing a woman in the courtroom.

I also had a supervisor suddenly kiss me with no warning or explanation. I told him not to do it again, but I didn’t report it. I had a lot of respect for him professionally and I knew his wife and questioned if I had done anything to suggest I was interested in him.  I had not, but this experience shows the automatic response of, is this my fault?  He didn’t do it again and it was not mentioned again. Should I have reported him, perhaps.

The work you do is so important and meaningful, but I imagine extremely difficult at times. There’s a lot of talk about “self care” these days. How do you stay positive and have fun?

I get out and do stuff! Raising my daughter Elizabeth was a lot of fun. I played softball until two years ago. I like to garden, read and watch movies. I guess you’ve just got to look into yourself and figure out what type of work you can emotionally handle. The abuse and neglect cases are extremely sad and disturbing, but I feel like I was really making a difference. I didn’t finish a day that I did not feel I had done something to make a child’s life better or at least safer.  

Sometimes people wonder why I did not practice a different kind of law and make more money, but that was not what I wanted and I was fortunate to know that. I feel like it is a privilege to do the type of work I got to do. I’m very lucky. It’s really important to find your passion or your spark! It also helps to work with people you like, or at least respect. In the early days of Legal Services where I worked right out of law school, we would work 12 or more hour days, but as the evening wore on, we would balance the important work we were doing with opening a beer and talking strategy and the law while we worked.

It’s also really important to have a support group. I am not married now, but have wonderful friends. When my daughter Elizabeth would be sick as a kid, my friends would take care of her if her father and I had to work. Sometimes though, I would bring her with me and have her lay in a sleeping bag under the courtroom bench at Juvenile Court while trials were going on (laughs). My courtroom officer would check on her and would sneak her Sprite!

If you could offer advice to women starting out in your field (or otherwise), what would you say?

Find your spark! If your job doesn’t fulfill you and feels routine, look around you and find something that excites you. Get involved in something outside of yourself. I’m convinced that when people find something that gets them outside themselves it makes them happier.

One thing I’ve learned is that to make change, you just have to get a group of concerned citizens together and get them the right information, give them a story they can respond to. I’ve also learned that if you get women involved things will actually get done. They are the ones that will do it. Don’t think you can’t change the world -  if you get the right people together and work hard you really can!

To learn more about or get involved with the Renewal House or A Step Ahead Foundation check out their websites:

http://www.renewalhouse.org/custpage.cfm?frm=153240&sec_id=153240

https://www.astepaheadfoundation.org/about/

 

Thursday, February 22nd

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Congress Club presents Mirror Mirror LIVE brought to you by LIVELY and Lemon Laine: A Conversation with Female Entrepreneurs in the Self-Care Business

Mirror Mirror Host Jesse Harbison will speak with women entrepeneurs in the beauty business on how they think the beauty industry is adapting to changing ideas about women and society – feminism and female empowerment, impact of celebrity/social media culture, changing technologies, beauty trends, and more.

How to Keep the Momentum Going, Even After the March

A conversation with Women’s March 2.0 leader, Darlene Leong Neal

By: Alyssa Curran

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Marching alongside more than 15,000 men, women and children at the Women’s March 2.0: Power Together TN Conference and Rally was a uniting and powerful experience for the second year in a row. This year’s tagline, #PowertothePolls set out to celebrate the anniversary of last year’s historic march, and motivate advocates to mobilize in the face of critical midterm elections.

The days and weeks following the march are energizing. Advocates cover their walls with protest signs, and calendars with resistance activities. Participation in local human rights and political groups sparks, and activists recite their first amendment rights like nursery rhymes. But, how do we ensure the movement doesn’t fizzle when the march is but a memory?

I sat down with Women’s March 2.0 Power Together Tennessee founder, Darlene Leong Neal, to talk about her perspective on the current state of the women’s movement in Nashville and discuss ways to remain actively engaged, even after the march.

How did you first become involved with the Women’s March?

Women’s March Tennessee is run completely by volunteers. On November 8, 2016, when the election results became clear, Hawaii native, Teresa Shook, turned to the “Pantsuit Nation” Facebook page and posted that she thought a pro-women march was needed. She went to sleep that night knowing that a few dozen friends had said they would attend. By the time she woke up, 10,000 people had responded to what would eventually become the Women’s March on Washington. The next day, I sent Teresa a message about the need for a sister march in Middle Tennessee. Our team of grassroots organizers set out to develop sister marches across the nation.

Had you worked in the political arena in the past?

No, I have not worked on campaigns, nor did I get a degree in politics. I’m not even a professional organizer. I have, however, led community organizing efforts on a lot of different issues. This movement has grown mainly out of grassroots activism. The march has been successful at giving a voice to those who have been disillusioned with their access to political process, and those who haven’t been involved in this space before.

Fast forward to the Women’s March 2.0 Power to the Polls, how would you describe the current state of the women’s movement, specifically here in Nashville?

I think that we have demonstrated momentum and sustainability because we’ve stayed engaged throughout the entire year. We’re a year out from the original march and we still have active involvement from thousands of new organizers and activists. In Tennessee alone, there were five different Women’s March anniversary events across the state. Additionally, we have listed over 500 events on our closed Facebook calendar, and that’s a significant amount of activity.

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How would you compare the state of the women’s movement in Nashville to the rest of the country?

Tennessee, and other Southern states, have some challenges that California and New York, for example, do not. It can be harder in a red state, or in the South, for women to step up fully, and to their power, because we get so many mixed messages about who we should be and how we should act. It’s not a partisan issue for me. It’s not about political affiliation, but it is about values. Our women’s march values are listed in our Unity Principles.

Do you collaborate with march movements in other states or are they unique to each state?

One thing that is important and exciting is this inter-state, collaborative effort on a grassroots level. After the march last year, we instituted Huddle – small neighborhood groups that get together to write postcards, set goals, make phone calls, and be supportive of one another. These Huddles have transformed into voter registration groups, phone banking groups, and more. Sometimes it’s messy, and we have so much to learn, but what encourages me is that we are in the room, on the calls, on the streets and in this struggle together.

How do you recommend that women in Nashville stay involved year-round?

First thing I would say is to join a local Women’s March group. Join our Facebook page as an easy entry point. In Nashville, our Women’s March group represents over 100 different organizations, 501c3 groups, grassroots groups and thousands of individuals. It is a movement that is driven from the bottom-up.

We employ a technique that is called Step Up, Step Back. When it’s your time, step up and into the work, but when life happens, take care of yourself.”

It’s hard to stay in this day-after-day with so much negativity around our work. It can be a toxic environment. We employ a technique that is called Step Up, Step Back. When it’s your time, step up and into the work, but when life happens, take care of yourself. We support people stepping back during those times.

Will Women’s March 2.0: Power Together TN accept donations and volunteers after the March?

We do have to address funding, especially in the South, because our progressive funders are not as robust. The Conference costs money to gather activists, put together issue training, maintain phone banks, materials, venues, transportation, and more. We accept donations year-round.

In terms of volunteers, as we move into the official affiliate status, we are interested in folks who appreciate and understand our bottom-up structure, but can bring their expertise on board.

Nashville’s Women’s March 2.0 was held on Saturday, January 20 at Public Square Park followed by a rally at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. For more information on how to get involved, visit: http://tnpowertogether.org.

By: Alyssa Curran