365 Feminist Project Conferences

I thank you for taking the time to read this. I’ll begin with honesty: I am not a pitch writer, a grant writer, nor a fundraising expert. I am a mom, a poet, a baker, a wife, a friend, a college graduate, but not a salesperson. With that in mind, I hope you can take a few minutes to hear my story and request.

Ten months ago, I came across a blog entry that changed my life. Veronica Arreola put forth a challenge to her feminist readers, to take a selfie every day for one year. (You can find that blog entry in full here: http://www.vivalafeminista. com/2013/12/365feministselfie- are-you-in.html?m=1 .) In brief, she challenges the idea that the selfie is narcissistic and negative, and points out that many women – average women, women of color, women over a certain clothing size – are underrepresented in the media. But we deserve to feel beautiful; we deserve to be seen; we deserve to preserve memories with our families and be in the photos, not always the one hiding behind the camera. The “feminist selfie project” is about empowering ourselves and other women, celebrating our unique qualities, recording memories and journeys.

I asked some of my friends to join me in the challenge and some were uncomfortable being totally public with their participation. I created a closed Facebook group, imagining it would consist of 30-40 friends posting daily or weekly selfies. Instead, the group quickly grew to over 250 members. Some post daily; some weekly; some only sporadically. However, the important story here is the magic we have created. Yes, “magic” is the word many of us have used to describe what evolved: a safe, non judgemental community space. We have women from all over the world, all ages and from a variety of political, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. And we all support each other; lift each other up; care for each other. For many of us, this is our only true safe space, and we share things we wouldn’t even share with our partners or families.

We have decided to organize two retreats/conferences focusing on feminism. Logistically it will be difficult, as we are so spread out in location. But we would love nothing more than to meet each other, and to work to advance the project’s goals. We want to help members create their own local groups that enjoy the same sense of community and support that we provide each other. We intend to hire speakers to further educate ourselves on feminism and female community, and to make this education available online to all.

And this is where we need your help. Many members need help with the travel expenses, plus there are costs for speakers and educational materials. We hope to meet in March of 2015 in Portland Oregon, with 50-75 members in attendance (mostly members in the USA and Canada) for a two day weekend conference. Ideally we will hold a second conference in the Midwest in November of 2015 as well, for our members that cannot travel as far as Portland. We are fundraising but still desperately need sponsors to make this dream become a reality. We want to raise $18,000 for our first conference, and a similar amount for the second. Will you please help this happen by sponsoring our event? With your gift of $50 or $10 or even $1 – any amount you deem appropriate – I know we can make this happen.


Cara Laird

Tucson, Arizona

www.facebook.com/groups/ 365feministselfies


P.S. Some personal words from our own members as testament to the importance of this project and group:


“This community has taught me that so many women who seem picture perfect on the outside are fighting big battles behind closed doors and under their skin. Whether from invisible illnesses or from mental illness or from financial and familial problems. None of us are perfect. Also- seeing all these women's flaws has made them so much more beautiful to me.” Beckie W.


“I'm accepted here as me, and supported in my struggles. I've told women things here I've never told anyone.” Cindy M.


“I've become comfortable opening up to new people, people I've not had the pleasure yet to meet in person, but hope to. And I'm incredibly grateful for the honest portrayals of life that are shared with a simple snapshot and a paragraph. The "Perfect Pinterest" person doesn't exist in this group, and no one is trying to be that person here. The authenticity is heart-warming, the advice asked for and offered is welcome, and the sharing of troubles and smiles is fulfilling.” Cinnamon C.


Cara Laird
Tucson, AZ

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