Clinic Escort Training – Twin Cities, Minnesota

Whole Women’s Health-Twin Cities – the clinic where I escort – is holding a call for volunteers and escort training tomorrow morning. This will be our second open call, and unlike this past winter, the weather will actually be above freezing!

Five people in vests standing in a room with a statement stenciled on the wall nearby, "We are not a gang in the usual sense of the term, we are a gang for justice. – Gulabi Gang"

Some of the Whole Women’s Health clinic escort team.

If you are interested in volunteering with the clinic as an escort – or maybe you have an interest in getting involved in other ways – come on down to Whole Women’s Health tomorrow morning at 7am. There will be coffee and donuts (first come, first serve), a Do and Don’ts of Clinic Escorting training, and a then a chance to observe on the sidewalk and have antis lecture you on the evils of abortion!

Now who doesn’t want that?

[Read more…]

Bowl-a-thon Updates

The bowl-a-thon for ProChoice Resources was so much fun. Personally I (and you all) raised $150. ProChoice Resources raised $81,959.

That’s what I’d call a damn good start.

The fundraiser was 80s-themed, so the entire night was filled with throwback music videos that had most of the bowlers screaming “Ahhhhh! Do you remember this song!!!???”

And of course there were sweatbands.

Sweatbands

Me and my teammate and BFF, Courtney, rocking our sweatbands.

The bowling was mostly a blur – a few gutter balls, a few strikes. We did not do well. I think the high score – among six of us – was in the high 80s. What was really amazing were all of the people – all of the bowlers and volunteers who had come together in support of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health options. So much love for all the heroes in that sweaty, noisy bowling alley!

And as promised: Me, with bowling ball in hand, wearing my Notorious P.I.D team shirt:

2014-03-20 19.29.31

Tonight I started on my thank yous for the donors who were a part of this:

DSC_0116

Writing thank you letters to mah donors.

I’ve still got postcards to do, and there will be one custom blog post for the generous individual who donated over $50.

I love you guys. Thank you so much.

Domestic Goddess

On Monday night my teammate and I were making our shirts for tonight’s Pro-Choice Resources bowl-a-thon. While I was ironing, she ordered me to give her my best Domestic Goddess pose:

Me ironing and giving the camera the finger

Today is the LAST DAY to donate to my bowl-a-thon fundraising website.

Please, please, pretty please consider donating some money to this incredible group. Pro-Choice Resources is on the front lines working to ensure that people have access to sex education, birth control and safe and legal abortion. You can see the original, thoughtfully-written appeal in this post, and I’m re-copying the goals and awards for donating at the end of today’s post.

So far you all have contributed $150 dollars for PCR. What say we push that up just a smidge more before I hit the lanes at 7:30pm CST tonight?

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

**********************

Goodies For Individual Donors:

Any Amount – I will send you a (photo of a) personal, hand-written thank you by email. Delivery goal: All emails delivered within one week of the end of the bowl-a-thon.

$25 or more – In addition to the above, I will send you a postcard thanking you for your donation (to anywhere in the world!). I would not have access to your mailing address via the PCR fundraising website, so I will put out a call for you to send me your address via email if you would like me to send you a postcard. Delivery goal: Date-stamped within two weeks of the end of the bowl-a-thon.

$50 or more – In addition to the above, I will devote a post to any question you’d like me answer or topic that you would like me to address. I make no promises about length or tone of the post, but on average I tend to devote between 500-1200 words to a topic that I find interesting.

Total Fundraising Goals:

If I raise the following amounts, I will do the following silly things:

$150 or more – I will post a photo of me with a bowling bowl, and wearing my team shirt (we’re “The Notorious P.I.D”)

$200 or more – In addition to the above, I will post a video of me granny-bowling and chanting “No back alleys in the night! For safe choices we will fight!”

$300 or more  – Both of the above, and I will do a dramatic armchair reading of some of the vile things that protesters say to patients and clinic escorts, and post a video of it.

$350 or more – The first three, and I will do the previously described reading in a smoking jacket with a pipe in my mouth and classical music playing in the background.

$400 or more – All of that stuff that I’ve already mentioned, and I’ll do the reading in a funny hat.

$500 or more – The first three, and instead of doing an armchair dramatic reading, I will have a friend do the dramatic reading while I act out the vile things that protesters say. And heck, we’ll turn it into a PSA about sidewalk bullying tactics.

 

Satan Makes You Stand

Today I was introduced to a lovely, quirky series called Adult Wednesday Addams. In honor of National Abortion Provider’s Day, which was on Monday – and because I just really want to share it with you – please enjoy Episode Six of Adult Wednesday Addams: Planned Parenthood.

Also, something really, really, really exciting happened on Monday: I met my first Pro-Choice Resources Bowl-A-Thon goal!!! Thank you to the five of you who gave some of your hard-earned money to help support Pro-Choice Resources. For the individual donations, I will be sending out several postcards, and I’ll be doing one custom blog post for the generous individual who donated over $50.

With $150 being raised so far, the first of my six total fundraising goals has been met! After the Bowl-A-Thon on March 20th, I will be posting a photo of me with a bowling bowl, and wearing my team shirt, “The Notorious P.I.D”.

AND I just raised my fundraising goal on my PCR Bow-A-Thon web page to $200. If I meet $200 I will post a video of me granny-bowling and chanting “No back alleys in the night! For safe choices we will fight!” I have goals set for $300, $350, $400, and if I should somehow manage to raise $500, I will make a YouTube PSA about sidewalk bullying tactics. To see all of my individual and total fundraising goals, check out this post from last week.

I sorta really wanna do that PSA, so I’m going to reach out again: If you want to support an organization that works to secure the right to comprehensive reproductive options, and provides abortion funds in Minnesota and the surrounding areas, public outreach throughout the United States, secular after-abortion support, and sex education for teens across the world – please consider sending a few bucks their way via my Bowl-A-Thon Fundraiser web page.

Very, truly, sincerely: Thank you.

Pro-Choice Resources Fundraiser

I may have mentioned once or twice that I feel quite strongly about safe and legal access to abortion.

Skeptical-looking dog and text that reads "...once or twice?"

Heh.

I blog about reproductive choice, access to birth control, and the benefits of sex education. I’ve held online panels about the lies that abortion-restriction proponents tell. I clinic escort. I donate to abortion funds and organizations that support sex education and health, and comprehensive reproductive options. I advocate for trans* inclusivity in conversations with my pro-choice peers.

And now I’m bowling.

Text Banner "Pro-Choice Resources Bowl-A-Thon"

This year I’m participating in a bowl-a-thon fundraiser for Pro-Choice Resources, a group that has as its goals, “advocacy, access, education and empowerment.” From the Pro-Choice Resources website.

Pro-Choice Resources (PCR) is a unique grassroots organization that provides a range of reproductive health services. PCR works every day to reduce barriers to reproductive health access. PCR is the only organization of its kind in the country to offer education, advocacy, financial assistance, and outreach under one roof.

I’ve seen PCR at the Minnesota State Fair (they gave away condoms-on-a-stick), and I attended one of their fundraiser banquets last year. I’ve spoken with clinic escorts who volunteer for PCR, and with people who support this group wholeheartedly. PCR is a MNSure advocate. They do sex education for youth groups and other at-risk populations in the Twin Cities, and they run the teen-oriented website birdsandbees.org. They fund abortions in the surrounding five-state area, and provide secular after-abortion support.

They’re doing good work. Heck yeah, I’ll bowl and fundraise for them!

And so I would like to humbly request your monies for Pro-Choice Resources via this Bowl-A-Thon fundraiser.

I am willing to be quite silly in the pursuit of your monies. And the more monies, the better. And the more silly.

Shrek-pleading-cat Kitty holding a hat with two front paws and pleading with HUGE black eyes

Plz can haz monies for to accessiblize reproductive healths?

Pro-Choice Resources has this fundraiser set up on a Blue Sky Collaborative website. They’ll send you a thank you email for supporting PCR, and I’m going to throw in a bunch of extras for those who donate through my personal fundraising page.

For Individual Donors:

Any Amount – I will send you a (photo of a) personal, hand-written thank you by email. Delivery goal: All emails delivered within one week of the end of the bowl-a-thon.

$25 or more – In addition to the above, I will send you a postcard thanking you for your donation (to anywhere in the world!). I would not have access to your mailing address via the PCR fundraising website, so I will put out a call for you to send me your address via email if you would like me to send you a postcard. Delivery goal: Date-stamped within two weeks of the end of the bowl-a-thon.

$50 or more – In addition to the above, I will devote a post to any question you’d like me answer or topic that you would like me to address. I make no promises about length or tone of the post, but on average I tend to devote between 500-1200 words to a topic that I find interesting.

Total Fundraising Goals:

If I raise the following amounts, I will do the following silly things:

$150 or more – I will post a photo of me with a bowling bowl, and wearing my team shirt (we’re “The Notorious P.I.D”)

$200 or more – In addition to the above, I will post a video of me granny-bowling and chanting “No back alleys in the night! For safe choices we will fight!”

$300 or more  – Both of the above, and I will do a dramatic armchair reading of some of the vile things that protesters say to patients and clinic escorts, and post a video of it.

$350 or more – The first three, and I will do the previously described reading in a smoking jacket with a pipe in my mouth and classical music playing in the background.

$400 or more – All of that stuff that I’ve already mentioned, and I’ll do the reading in a funny hat.

$500 or more – The first three, and instead of doing an armchair dramatic reading, I will have a friend do the dramatic reading while I act out the vile things that protesters say. And heck, we’ll turn it into a PSA about sidewalk bullying tactics.

Okay, so that’s about it. The Bowl-A-Thon will take place on March 20th, and I will get the individual and total goal deliverables out ASAP after that date.

What’s that? Oh, I haven’t told you how to donate to my fundraising page? Well that’s easy.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO BRIANNE’S BOWL-A-THON FUNDRAISER!!!!

Want to make an anonymous donation?

The awesome folks at Pro-Choice Resources responded incredibly quickly with information about how to make an anonymous donation, with suggestions for making the donations anonymous to me only, anonymous only to PCR, or completely anonymous to both of us. From PCR:

There isn’t a way to make an anonymous donation on the Bowl-a-Thon website. If someone wanted to make a donation that was anonymous to the bowler or team, [see below]. But the name would be known to Pro-Choice Resources.

To do that, a donor could make an online donation to PCR on our website and send me an email (derek@birdsandbees.org) that it is intended as an anonymous donation for someone’s Bowl-a-Thon team. And we can credit the donation anonymously to that bowler. Or they could mail a check per the instructions on the website.

If a donor would like to make a donation to an individual, but anonymous to PCR, the best way is for them to pay the bowler directly and have the bowler make out a check to PCR or bring cash at the Bowl-a-Thon.

Pathfinders Project – Support Ben!

I’ve had a chance to meet and work with Ben Sweatervest at several secular and skeptical conferences. He is a passionate, optimistic and forward-thinking Whovian humanist, and all-around awesomesauce person.

And he needs your help. Specifically, yer monies.

909369_10151376952647862_2125467856_nImage shows Ben Sweatervest posing with his Staff/Speaker Skeptech 2013 badge and a huge smile.

Ben has committed to spending a full year as a Pathfinder. The Pathfinders Project is a “yearlong international service trip (July 2013-July 2014) sponsored by Foundation Beyond Belief, a non-profit organization created to focus, encourage, and demonstrate the generosity and compassion of secular humanists.

The work that Ben and his fellow Pathfinders are doing will support the launch of the Humanist Service Corp, a future program of the Foundation Beyond Belief.

This project will have benefits for the individuals involved, for Humanist communities and the movement as a whole. They’ve put quite a bit of work into demonstrating why a program like the Pathfinders and the Humanist Service Corp is needed, what they’re hoping to accomplish, how they’re measuring success, how they will meet the needs of the volunteers who work with them and how they will efficiently work with already-existing service organizations.

But back to Ben! Ben, as one of the Pathfinders, is raising money to support this project. Click on this link or the image below to be taken to his Indiegogo fundraising page. There you can learn more about the project, see a personal video of Ben explaining why he’s involved and where the money will be going. Oh yeah – and then you can donate!

SBSVA

Image shows a screenshot of Ben’s IndieGogo fundraising website – the project title and information is a banner across the top of the page, Ben’s YouTube video takes up the left hand side, and his goal stats are on the right.

Good luck, Ben! Thank you for your service.

Dining Out for Life 2013

A bright and early good morning from Victor’s 1959 Cafe!

IMAG0502 (1024x632)

Aside from my love of fried plantains, I’m out with two of my best friends, the Hubby and Courtney, for the annual fundraiser, Dining Out for Life.

DOFL

Dining Out for Life: Dine Out, Fight AIDS!

I’ve been to several of the Dining Out for Life events and they’ve always been fun. Dining Out for Life Ambassadors are in every restaurant to give out stickers and information about the event.  In Minnesota, the funds raised go to The Aliveness Project, a community center in South Minneapolis that provides services to members of the AIDS community, and the Rural AIDS Action Network, which serves those affected by HIV/AIDS throughout Greater Minnesota.

TAP          RAAN

The Aliveness Project and Rural AIDS Actions Network logos. Click on either for more information about these groups.

Dining Out for Life is a project that recruits restaurants to donate a portion of each meal sold. Cities across the United States and in British Columbia have Dining Out for Life events. Many of them are happening today, but they can occur at any time. Click on the image below to go to the DOFL website to learn when the cities below are hosting events.

DOFL Sites

In Minnesota you can find participating restaurants in many major cities: Twin Cities, Duluth, Harris, Lanesboro, Mankato, Rochester, Alexandria, Stillwater and St. Cloud!

So now for the really important question: What did we order?

Me: Dia y Noche

IMAG0505 (1024x577)Eggs, black beans over white rice, fried plantains.

The Hubby: Create Your Own Omlette

IMAG0504 (1024x577)Omelette-y goodness with wild rice, cheese and peppers. English muffin with butter

Courtney: Cuban Hash

IMAG0501 (1024x559)Ground beef, creole sauce, green olives, capers, raisins. Eggs and fried plantains.

It’s not too late to participate in Dining Out for Life. Head out for lunch, maybe grab some coworkers for happy hour, take a friend out for dinner. You can find a list of participating restaurants and the amounts of their contributions here. There are many different styles and costs – even a few coffee houses if you want to participate but don’t have a lot of cash to spare. If you can get out and want to get out, then today’s your day to Dine Out, Fight AIDS!

DSC_0003 (1024x681)The awesome Dining Out for Life ambassador for Victor’s 1959 Cafe, moi and Rena Sarigianopoulos, a KARE 11 TV anchor, reporter and Dining Out for Life supporter.

Twitter hashtag for Dining Out for Life: #DOLMN (Minnesota) and #DOFL (Dining Out For Life)

JT and JTs Videogameathonapalooza!

The first game system I played was the Atari 2600. I have memories of playing E.T., Berzerk, Pitfall, Asteroid, Space-Invaders, Frogger and DigDug.  I still remember the pain of Atari Thumb.

Breakout was my favorite game for a long time.

Remember this bad boy? And unlike some of the other games, this one used the paddle rather than the joystick controller.

After Atari my parents picked us up a Nintendo (NES), and then we upgraded to Super Nintendo when I was in Junior High. I was a HUGE Mario fan. We conquered Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 and 3. I even got the cheat guide for Super Mario 3 so I could find all of the hidden flutes, learn the trick behind scoring five 1-ups at the end of every three levels, and memorize the grids of the memory cards bonus levels.

My other favorite game was Trog! Frickin’ green Trogs were the worst. This was the heyday of my video gaming; we played Duck Hunt, California Games, TMNT, Contra Force, Legend of Zelda, MegaMan, Kid Icarus, Paperboy, Donkey Kong, Tennis and Q*bert. My mom kicked all of our asses in Dr. Mario and Tetris, and my dad and I liked to play one of the casino games, Bases Loaded and Black Bass. The Nintendo was downstairs in our unfinished basement, so often times we would drag over the space heater and play Nintendo while we did laundry.

I completely missed Sega and didn’t pick up a console again until Thanksgiving 2011 when I bought a WII. I rock the new Mario Kart, the Hubby and I like to hunt each other down in Goldeneye 007, and I’m smitten with this one diving game called Endless Ocean. But one of the first things I did when I plugged in the system was download the old SNES Super Mario Bros and Dr. Mario.

Ah memories.

And do you know what starts in, like, NOW? Jason Thibeault and JT Eberhard’s 24 hour Gamers For Godlessness Gameathonapalooza! They’re going to be playing all sorts of retro videogames. For CHARITY.

I KNOW, RIGHT?!

GO HERE TO START WATCHING THE LIVESTREAM

What’s a gameathonapalooza? I’ll let JT explain:

Jason Thibeault from the Lousy Canuck blog and I are going to be playing retro games for 24 straight freaking hours on Saturday!  We’ll be live-streaming our lovely faces along with our games.  We’ll be talking about all kinds of interesting stuff from atheism to politics to gaming history, and we’ll be taking call-ins, email questions, etc.  We’re doing this to raise money for Camp Quest and theWomen in Secularism conference.

 They’ve got all sorts of crazy challenges, stunts and guests – including me at 10pm EST – set up for today and tomorrow.12PM EST today through 12pm EST tomorrow (Sunday). Check out this post by JT for some last minute updates. It’s also the thread for comments, questions and challenges at Chez WWJTD. Click that link/visit that blog post at lot, because JT’s donating all of the money from hits to that post to the cause.

The hashtag for the event is #GDLS

See you over there!

Skepticon Needs HALP!

I went to Skepticon 3 back in 2010 and had a blast. It was one of the first large skepticism conferences that I had attended, and the speaker lineup was intense! BTW, that link will send you to the SK3 media page, where you can watch videos of any or all of the talks from that year.

Here’s a bit from the Skepticon website that I like:

It’s a little difficult to explain to someone who’s never attended that Skepticon is not just about the talks and panels; it’s also about the immersion, the total envelopment into a genuinely accepting (and interesting!) community. We don’t do all this just because we love to hear PZ Myers talk (though we do). We do it because events like Skepticon are front and center at the beginning of the story of how you and I — and him, and her, and them, and we — find each other.

I missed Skepticon 4 last year and started regretting it the moment my twitter stream began to fill up with tweets from the event.

scarlett_ohara

As FSM is my witness, I will NEVER miss Skepticon AGAIN!

As their tagline boasts, Skepticon is the largest FREE conference on skepticism. The organizers of Skepticon feel very strongly about keeping the conference free to attend, and thus within the reach of more people. But as we all know, it’s never free to put on a conference. Skepticon accepts donations and does other fundraising to help rent the venue and cover incidental costs, but because of the growing popularity of the event, this year’s fundraising fell short. Here’s the letter from organizer and MC Lauren Lane that was just published TODAY – one week from the start of Skepticon 5.

Dear Internet,

Let me start by first saying that I love ALL of your faces. I do.

So, as you may have heard, Skepticon is happening soon and I am so excited! WOOO!

But, here’s the thing. There’s a catch. I know, I know–there is always a catch, but this one is pretty important. Skepticon is in a bit of a tough spot. This year, we had to secure a bigger venue, and that means that it’s more expensive to put on.

If I had all the money in the world, I would put on Skepticon for free every year, but sadly (both for me and the world) that is not the case. We need donations to keep Skepticon running, especially now as we are faced with a larger obstacle than we had originally thought.

Every time I express my worry about Skepticon’s financial situation, I am faced with comments about we ‘should just start charging.’ I won’t lie to you all, doing that would make things much easier financially. If everyone who came to Skepticon gave us $5, we would easily be able to fund ourselves.

But we won’t start doing that. Ever. As far as I am concerned, as long as all of you continue to believe in and support us, then we are willing to put in the work to make this event free to attend. We want any and everyone who can make it out to Springfield freaking’ Missouri to be able to be here with us.

We want you here. We want this event to happen. We need your help.

Hearts and kisses,

Lauren

If you are able – if you treasure the spread of ideas and information and critical thought and skepticism and rationality – if you love that the organizers are doing everything in their power to keep this event free and open to the public – please join me in donating to Skepticon this year.

Click here to Donate Now

This link will take you to the “Contribute” page of Skepticon. From there click on the maroon square in the upper right corner that says “make a donation”.

UPDATE (11/7/12): Skepticon is ON! From the Skepticon website:

WE DID IT!

Skepticon is fully funded for this year!

Thanks to this amazing community (who raised roundabout 7,000 in three days for this event-holy crapsticks), our speakers, bloggers, and supporters for spreading the word, and the hard work of the Skeptiteam negotiating like badasses with the venue/hotel people, we have done it.

This year is going to be totally LEGENDARY.

Weekend Report

I was hoping to get a lot of writing done this weekend because there is SO MUCH TO WRITE ABOUT! I got exactly zero writing done, but looking back on my weekend, it turns out I did some pretty cool stuff.

Friday night was supposed to be a night of relaxing and hanging out with the Virtual Drinking Skeptically (VDS) gang. Unfortunately, work setbacks trashed that idea. I didn’t have all my ducks in a row and ended up working until midnight :(  Long story short, I grabbed some material (calibrators) for a study and forgot to check the expiration date. After doing all of the set-up on Friday morning, I went to use the calibrators and discovered that they were expired. No problem, I’ll just go grab a new lot, right? Ohhhh…so sad for me: there are no unexpired lots left in the freezer. Luckily, my company makes the darned things on site, so I’ll just go over to manufacturing and pick some up. Three hours later…

At some point during the morning’s series of fiascoes I noted with that sort of inappropriate hilarity that often precludes a mental breakdown that I was going through various stages of grief as my Friday night went up in flames.

  • Shock/Denial: WHAT? How the hell are the calibrators expired? What do you mean we don’t have any extra calibrators in the building? How is that possible? I am NOT letting this get in the way of Virtual Drinking Skeptically tonight.
  • Pain/Guilt: How could I be so stupid as to not check the expiration date before I started!? How could I have everything in place and forget that? I haven’t been to a VDS in months and I feel horrible for not showing up and supporting it because it’s awesome and I can’t believe I’ve ruined my evening like this!
  • Anger/Bargaining: How did NO ONE stock calibrators? Why did this have to happen tonight!? Maybe I could use the expired cals and write some sort of justification. No? Okay, if I can just get the study started, I can sneak away and come in over the weekend to finish things up.
  • Depression/Loneliness: This sucks. I hate working late on Friday nights. Everyone goes home to relax and start their weekend and I’m going to be stuck here pipetting samples until kingdom come. Which isn’t coming, so that means FOREVER. I’m not making it to VDS.
  • Upward Turn: Okay… I have new calibrators. The instruments are all ready to go. Let’s calibrate and see if the controls pass. Samples are thawed, time to start pipetting. If I can load 20 samples per hour and I’ve got 149 samples to load… awwww, man. Wait, calm…I can do this.
  • Acceptance/Hope: Okay, there’s no way I’m getting out of here in time for VDS, but I’ll just have to plan to make the next one. And hey, everything’s running well and I’m going to make it through at least half of these samples today. I’ll come back on Sunday and finish ‘em up. And I’ll still have all of Saturday. Every little thing… is gonna be alright.

That’s a whole lot of emotion to go through over the course of a day! Like I said earlier, I left at midnight, but I did get to come home to a sympathetic partner and a whiskey nightcap. So that was nice.

[Read more…]