by Gay Bruhn, National Board Member, Great Lakes Region
What will be different?
Defining NOW's future will be our main business in Rochester. National conferences usually focus on issues that women face today. This year, the conference will go beyond our immediate concerns. We'll be defining ourselves as an organization and creating our vision for women in the next century.
Every conference attendee will have a voice in creating the vision statement—and the pre-conference vision work done by NOW chapters and regions will help shape our work. NOW's board members have worked for almost two years to refine a process that embraces the experiences and perspectives of conference participants and will result in a moving vision statement. Participants will give input on a series of questions and will engage with others in discussion and debate about what change we seek to make in the world, how we believe change can happen and what NOW's philosophy is for feminist activism.
Participants will be inspired by powerful speakers who review our history, address our current status and share their dreams for a feminist future. We will be assisted by talented writers. Our creative energy will be uplifted by feminist artists.
On Sunday the entire conference body will discuss and delegates will
vote on a vision statement. Those who support the final version will have
the opportunity to sign this document in the closing ceremony.
Will there be resolutions?
The drafting, debating and passing of resolutions that is usually the main work of the weekend will give way to the development of our vision.
There will be a resolutions process, but it will take place on the local,
state and regional level and again at the national board. Proposed resolutions
will be presented to the board in advance of the conference, and a screening
committee will identify urgent resolutions that need to come to the full
Will there be workshops?
This conference will indeed be special. We will be talking about our organization, who we are, what we want to be, what we want our future to be and what NOW's role will be in that future -- not the issues already defined for us by today's world.
Board member Marcia Pappas described the importance of vision as giving us a new or renewed sense of value in ourselves and each other. Participants will put into words the feminism we feel in our hearts and why this movement is worth giving everything of ourselves. Our work in Rochester will articulate a framework of shared values to guide our decisions.
We are setting out to make history just as they did at that first convention in 1848. The Declaration of Sentiments is a model of what we can create together. As Sojourner Truth put it so eloquently at the 1851 Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio: "If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right-side up again."
NOW, we are these women.
For more information or to register, go to http://www.now.org/conference.html or call 202-331-0066, ext. 771.