Secular Women Work: Black Nonbelievers: Past, Present, and Future

We have some video conversion and editing to do before we can release all the talks and panels from the Secular Women Work conference. We had several people tweeting the event, though, so I am collecting and releasing Storifies of the sessions over several days.

Before we set up the Kickstarter for this project, we knew we wanted someone on board who had built an organization from the ground up. Mandisa Thomas was our choice for obvious reasons. She identified a need no one else was meeting, put together a group that successfully met those needs, and has seen her organization through the normal challenges of growth and some extraordinary ones.

As it turns out, she’s also a pleasure to work with and an apparently unending source of energy, but that was a bonus for us. [Read more…]

Rethinking Diversity Panels

In the last week and a bit, it seems everyone is writing about rethinking the value of diversity panels. That isn’t to say it’s a new topic. It’s not even close.

It is, however, in the public eye at the moment. The painful absurdity at Gen Con’s “Writing Women-Friendly Comics” panel. Wes Chu being out of place at a diversity panel at Sasquan just a few months after talking about having been removed from a panel he was suited for to be placed on a diversity panel. General talk about supporting diverse writers in the wake of Sad and Rabid Puppies having “accidents” all over Hugo Awards ballots. All these have put the topic firmly in the public eye, and folks have plenty of good things to say on it.

As someone who just organized a conference at which all the speakers and presenters were women or genderqueer people, I generally agree with these assessments. We worked hard to match people with topics that reflected their expertise, not their marginalization, keeping “minority provides free education” duties to a minimum. Our priority was to highlight their other skills and interests. [Read more…]

Secular Women Work: Lobbyists Are People Too

We have some video conversion and editing to do before we can release all the talks and panels from the Secular Women Work conference. We had several people tweeting the event, though, so I am collecting and releasing Storifies of the sessions over several days.

This is the earliest panel we started pulling together and one of the last to be finalized. That is, in part, because we were ambitious. We didn’t want this panel to only reflect the viewpoints of people who lobbied. We also wanted people who had been lobbied, elected officials who have relied on input from their constituents to help them make good decisions. We got them.

I’m particularly proud of having State Representative Phyllis Kahn on this panel. She’s been a good champion for the separation of church and state and helped Minnesota Atheists be heard on these issues. Her legislative work includes groundbreaking laws like Minnesota’s first Clean Indoor Air Act. And her stories about work on various issues demonstrate how much is decided based on who shows up. [Read more…]

Secular Women Work: How to Be an Ally

We have some video conversion and editing to do before we can release all the talks and panels from the Secular Women Work conference. We had several people tweeting the event, though, so I am collecting and releasing Storifies of the sessions over several days.

This was a pretty intense panel, with people talking about it all evening and the next day. The tweets won’t and can’t do it justice, as they captured the advice more than why it is important. I am extremely grateful to Desiree for asking us to put this together. [Read more…]

Secular Women Work: Getting Your Message Out in Spite of a Hostile Press

We have some video conversion and editing to do before we can release all the talks and panels from the Secular Women Work conference. We had several people tweeting the event, though, so I am collecting and releasing Storifies of the sessions over several days.

This panel is the one that diverged most from my expectations as an organizer. All of our panelists are closely associated with “alternative” media, publications that aim for and succeed in niche markets. I expected to hear a lot about how to build and leverage those publications. Instead, I heard solid strategies for using a hostile press to reach untapped audiences.

I couldn’t be more delighted. In many ways, this is harder work, but it also has the potential to reach more of the people who need to be educated or have their minds changed. It’s very good to have understand the considerations behind the work. [Read more…]

Secular Women Work: Fundraising, or How to Ask for Money

We have some video conversion and editing to do before we can release all the talks and panels from the Secular Women Work conference. We had several people tweeting the event, though, so I am collecting and releasing Storifies of the sessions over several days.

Asking for money, even for a project I believe in, is far outside my comfort zone. Obviously, I’ve managed to do it anyway, or we wouldn’t have been able to raise the funds for this conference. Still, it’s something that makes me anxious, and I know I’m not close to alone in that. So we put together a panel for Secular Women Work to demystify and even destigmatize the process.

I knew going in to the this panel that everyone on it had successfully raised money for their projects, so I wasn’t surprised at the practical advice that came out of it. I was surprised and pleased to see that our panelists had a wider variety of experiences than I thought. It’s always nice to be able to see what advice generalizes and what doesn’t. [Read more…]

Secular Women Work: Taking Over from the Old Guard

We have some video conversion and editing to do before we can release all the talks and panels from the Secular Women Work conference. We had several people tweeting the event, though, so I am collecting and releasing Storifies of the sessions over several days.

We organizers originally conceived of the “Taking Over from the Old Guard” panel as a chance to talk about the challenges of entering a relatively homogenous space and working to make it meet the needs of a broader group of people. This panel was that and more, with panelists talking about developing themselves as leaders and about succession planning.

Kudos to all the panelists, who spoke frankly about their challenges in positions they still hold and communities they still work with, particularly to Heather Hegi, who spoke with her peers sitting in the audience. Also, if more people don’t start asking Amy Monsky to talk at their events, they’re really missing out. [Read more…]

Secular Women Work: The Future of the Movement

The Secular Women Work conference was this weekend. I found it intense and exhausting but very valuable. I’m told that people who weren’t organizing the conference had a different perspective on the exhaustion.

We have some video conversion and editing to do before we can release the talks and panels. We had several people tweeting the event, though, so I’ll be releasing Storifies of the sessions over the next several days.

First up is Debbie Goddard’s talk on the future of the movement and the challenges we face going forward. Goodness knows I’ve been discouraged at points over the last few years, but this talk goes a long way toward reminding me that making a better movement and meeting that movement’s goals is a possible thing. If I weren’t still tired from the conference, it would probably even make me start organizing something. [Read more…]

Secular Women Work Starts Today!

Yeah, so I’ve been running around like mad for the last week and some, and it won’t stop for a few more days. But our first speakers arrived in town last night, more are on their way, and we’ve only had one shipment of critically needed supplies go astray! (I should be getting a call about that any minute. *grump*)

I’m so very ready for this conference. I hope to see a bunch of you there.

Find Me at CONvergence!

Oh, goodness. CONvergence is just one day out, and it’s going to be a busy weekend. In addition to the FtB party room in the evenings (plus set-up and tear-down), I’m on six official CONvergence panels and running a salon in the FtB room on the side because we all decided we just weren’t doing enough already. Or something like that.

So here’s where you can find me talking at con. You’ll also find me at the Caribou Coffee next to the main conference hotel every morning, but I probably won’t be talking much at that point. [Read more…]