Monday, March 11, 2013

My talk from One Billion Rising

On February 14th, 2013, One Billion Rising RVA took place at the Richmond Coliseum.  Janett Forte, Kelsey Bedolli, Julie Willard, Alba Jaramillo, and I were the five lead organizers for the event.  Our intention was to raise awareness about violence against women and to help end it.  We created a Resource Fair, offered Entertainment, provided music and dance, and organized 5 speakers (Mayor Jones, Claire Hylton Sheppard, Carol Jones, Rebiya Kadeer, Kristi VanAudenhove with Christina Feerick as MC) to address various aspects of violence against women - domestic violence, stalking, spousal murder, sex trafficking, young marriage, oppression, sexual abuse, etc.  Approximately 1000 attended the rally; many more tuned in via LiveStream; and even more knew about it and were with us in spirit.

 Several people have asked me for a copy of my remarks from the day (I was the first speaker and offered the concluding remarks as well).  Here they are...

Welcome to One Billion Rising RVA!  Welcome!
My name is Susan Singer and I’m one of the five lead organizers for this event.  I am so happy to see you all here today.  I hope you’ll tweet and FB your friends all day to let them know what’s happening and to give them a virtual rally even if they can’t be here with you right now, but please invite them to come if they can!  Let’s make the Richmond Coliseum the place to be right now!
And why is it the place to be?
Because you’re here.
Yes, you.
Take a moment to feel that – you being here.
No matter what you have experienced in your past, no matter what you may experience in your future, right now, right here, you are here.  Present to yourself. 
Let all the hustle and bustle of the morning slip away.  Feel the adrenalin coursing through your veins from the dancing.  Feel your muscles vibrating with joy from the movement.  Notice the beat of the music in your head.  Feel the vibration in the air, the excitement, the buzz, the anticipation.
Now put your attention into your belly, your beautiful belly, the seat of your power.  What kind of energy do you sense there now?  Can you feel it growing?  THIS is the source of your power.
Perhaps in the past you were told to hold it in.   Perhaps someone tried to beat it out of you, or had dominion over you, and you thought you had to squelch it or suffer terrible consequences.  Well I am here to tell you today that you do not have to hold it in anymore.  Today is a new day, a new way of being, the rising of a new consciousness, the shift into a new paradigm.  We are here today to break through the pain we’ve experienced and to come into our own power.
For all you men and for those who fall between rigid gender assignments, we’re speaking to you too.  Most assuredly.  We love our V-Men and our V-tweeners, especially the ones with the courage to be here today to embrace their own beautiful power and to set an example for others to follow.  Kids, we’re talking to you too!  You’re the ones who are growing up into this big wide wonderful world, and we want to make it as safe and beautiful for you as we possibly can!
So, please, women, men, kids, and everyone in between, embrace your own power!  You know I’m not talking about power over or about dominion over – I’m not talking about  political or physical power that leads to confrontation and polarization.  Those are simply manifestations of fear.  To those living with the fear that manifests as bullying, I invite you to feel this different source of power.  I offer you healing for your pain.
There is a deep rich knowing deep in our bodies that can heal the world.  It arises through dance, one of the most magical manifestations of joy possible! 
It arises when we hold our newborn babies in our arms and feel their pure souls cradled there.
It manifests when we see another in pain and rush to help.  It happens when our hearts open and override our conditioning.
Today I ask you to open your heart, access your power, dance your joy, and, as you do so, know that ALL OVER THE WORLD, crossing the globe just as the sun is crossing the globe, women and children and men and all genders in between in over 200 countries around the world, are gathered, just like we are, feeling their power and their joy.  There are over 20 risings in Virginia alone.  Can you feel the power?
In the General Assembly just a few blocks away, Delegate Jennifer McClellan is calling on our delegates to join us in spirit to put an end to violence against women.  At the end of their session, around the end of our rally, Senator Donald McEachin will close the Senate session by rising and asking all the Senators to take a pledge to make violence against women THE central issue of our times.
This is a moment like no other in the history of the world.  More women and those who love us are rising today than have ever come together – ever!
So I ask you to take a moment to feel your sisters and brothers and others in Mumbai, in Tokyo, in London, in the steppes of Russia, in Mexico, in Capetown, even in Antartica.
All over the world, people are feeling this power in their bellies.  They are invoking a vision of a new world where compassion and kindness and compromise are the hallmarks of justice.  Can you see it?
We are calling forth a society where violence is unacceptable, simply unacceptable.
We are calling forth our clarity that there is no place in the world for cruelty or injustice or even unkindness.  There is only room for kindness and love and compassion.
We are calling forth a world where we feel solidarity with our sisters. When bad things happen, we call on our sisters and our V-men and everyone else and together we make it right.  We don’t allow a young girl in Pakistan to die because she wanted to go to school and spoke out about it.  Instead we raise a rallying cry and make a public stink and make sure she recovers and can go on to learn as much as she possibly can.  That outcry is changing the world.  Our solidarity, our choice, to stand behind that young woman changed something in the world.

I have a challenge for you – from now on, if you see a woman in pain or a man suffering an injustice or a child needing help, if you can’t help directly, do this – look that person in their eyes and raise your one finger in the air and let them know – we are all one.  They are NOT alone.  They have ONE BILLION PEOPLE BESIDE THEM, BEHIND THEM, all over the globe, supporting them as they stand up to oppression and say no.  Our sign from this day onward, to all who are suffering, is our one finger, raised in solidarity and support, reminding each of us, we are not alone. 
If each of us has the courage to tell our stories, our heartbreaking sorrowful sad shameful stories, we can break the chain and open our hearts and find the support we need.  We can work together to make things right. We can work together to heal where there has been harm.  We can work together to change laws that are unjust, to govern in just and compassionate ways.  We can work together to end war and to heal the planet and to create a good and just world for all.
Together we rise.   ONE BILLION RISING.
Thank you.
Concluding remarks  
We have heard here today some of the horrors being perpetrated here in Richmond as well as around the world.  There is so much pain and suffering, it is terribly difficult to hold it all.
But we have also heard tales of joy and empowerment and triumph – Claire’s daughter’s tragic murder led Claire to become a tireless advocate for others.  Carol’s mother’s death has not gone unnoticed, and thousands of children are better cared for thanks to Carol and her mother.  Rebiya Kadeer’s life has been full of pain and suffering, even as now two of her children are imprisoned just as she was.  Despite all that, we have witnessed her determination to take the higher path and to devote her life to the autonomy and safety of her beloved Uyghur people, especially the women. 
Each of the women you heard speak today is a beautiful example of power used for good.  Each has accessed her life’s purpose, the reason she is on this planet, the reason her life matters, and each is boldly and courageously pursuing her vision for a better world.
Take the time, I beg you, to listen deep within to your own still small voice that knows why you’re here, what you are meant to be doing, and pledge today to do one thing to grow that voice, one thing each day, to give voice to the beauty you have to offer the world.   Just imagine a world where each of us is living the life we were born to lead – giving the world the gifts that only we have to bestow.
THAT is the vision of SEVEN billion rising and of heaven on earth.  Thank you.

Art Classes in Richmond, VA for Spring and Summer

I'll be offering many, many, many classes in the following months.  Here's a list of them in case you're interested.  All classes take place in Richmond, VA.  You can email me at SusanSingerArt at if you'd like more information, or take a look at my website at  for details about the classes.

Beginning Drawing - Mondays, April 8 - May 20, 7 weeks, $210, at Crossroads Art Center, contact me to sign up.  Most likely I'll offer another Beginning Drawing class in the summer, but the dates haven't been set yet.  Contact me if you're interested.

Intermediate Drawing
- Tuesdays, April 2 - May 28, 8 weeks (no class 4/9), $240, at my studio.  Open to all who have had Beginning Drawing or commensurate experience, contact me to sign up;  most likely I'll offer another Intermediate class in the summer, but I haven't set the dates yet.  Contact me if you're interested.
Drawing Fundamentals Intensive
- another new class for me - Beginning Drawing all in a week!  Monday, June 17 - Friday, June 21; 9:30 - 12:30; at the Visual Arts Center, sign up at

Zendoodles for Parent and Child
- a new class, by special request - Zendoodles with a special emphasis on kids and their parents.  We'll do some special projects for them to work together as well as teach many of the wonderful, fun patterns which make Zendoodles so special!  Saturday, May 18, 10-2; $75 for parent and child together; at my studio; bring a lunch; contact me to sign up. 

Zendoodles - the regular class for adults (and kids accompanied by an adult), Saturday, August 3, 10-2; at the Visual Arts Center, sign up at

Intro to Pastels - Wednesdays, June 5 - July 10, 6 weeks, 6:30 - 9 PM, at the Visual Arts Center, sign up at
Intermediate Pastels -
ongoing, Monday afternoons from 1-3:30 at my studio, $30/session.  Minimum 3 students/class; Max 6.  Call ahead to register. OR Wednesdays, July 24 - August 28, 6 weeks, 6:30 - 9 PM, at the Visual Arts Center, sign up at

Pastel Intensive
- Friday, April 5 6:30 - 9; Saturday, April 6, 10-4; Sunday, April 7, 1-4.  At Visual Arts Center and en plein aire (probably at the river); a chance to spend the weekend doing art!  Sign up at

 Take a Visual Journal to Your Soul - We'll spend a weekend making an extraordinary 64 page bound journal, then will meet 6 Thursdays to fill the journal with art, musings, dreams, thoughts - whatever you'd like.  Classes will offer opportunity to learn art skills; explore personally and spiritually; play, etc.  Saturday, April 13, 10-4; Sunday, April 14, 1-5; Thursdays April 18 - May 30 (no class April 25 - I'll be at Tech Rehearsal for the Vagina Monologues!); $275 + $25 for materials; at my studio; contact me to sign up
Follow Your Bliss - a class designed to help you learn what it is you LOVE to do, to figure out what might be stopping you from doing it, to support you in doing it with vitality and joy, Mondays, July 8 - August 26, 8 weeks, 6:30 - 9 PM, at the Visual Arts Center, sign up at

 Watercolor Painting in the Garden - class held at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden; sign up at www.visarts.orgTuesday, April 9, 10-4 OR
Saturday, April 20, 10-4 OR
Monday, June 10, 10-4, OR
Saturday, July 27, 10-4

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Everyday Sexism

If you happen to read German, there a great website anyone can take part in.  It's called Alltagssexismus - Everyday Sexism.  If you've experienced any kind of sexism, racism, classism, etc., you can write up your story - it's simply a chance to be heard and known.  I imagine they'd be fine with having entries in English too, if you wanted to enter your own.  Or send your stories to me at and I'll put them on our own blog,, which has the same intention of gathering everyone's stories of what it is to be a woman in today's society.  I hope you'll considering sharing your stories.  The clearer we are about the issues, the more we can do to end the problems.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Offensive T shirts pulled from Amazon. Good work, people who complained!

A friend sent me this information.  Very disturbing.  I'm glad to hear the shirts were taken down right away and can no longer be ordered.  Women are definitely not going to take it anymore. THAT'S the great news I'm seeing from this.

On this morning's news I saw a Keep Calm and Hit Her Amazon T shirt. Apparently there is a line of these t shirts. Money talks.This is outrageous.
Revealed - the OTHER offensive T-shirts available on Amazon it was forced to axe 'Keep Calm and Rape' clothing line
By Staff 12 hours 26 minutes ago // Latest News | Revealed - the OTHER offensive T-shirts available on Amazon it was forced to axe 'Keep Calm and Rape' clothing line 0Google +00 Comments and 0 Reactions
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  • Twitter urged others to email clothes shop and Amazon to express disgust 
  • Message is a twist on the World War II morale-boosting slogan  
  • Makers Solid Gold Bomb claimed the message was 'computer generated'
  • Owner has apologised and withdrawn the garments from sale.
  • Say they had 'no idea' the message was printed on the t-shirts
By Anna Edwards and Mail On Sunday Reporter
PUBLISHED: 17:06 EST, 2 March 2013 | UPDATED: 06:56 EST, 3 March 2013
Speaks for itself: Amazon users are furious that the product is being sold and called the tops 'disgusting'
Speaks for itself: Amazon users are furious that the product is being sold and called the tops 'disgusting'
Amazon has removed a T-shirt range bearing sickening messages about sex crime and violence towards women.
The T-shirts pulled from sale by the online retailer included phrases like Keep Calm And Rape A Lot, Keep Calm And Punch Her, Keep Calm And Grope On, Keep Calm and Choke Her, Keep Calm and Knife Her and Keep Calm And Kill Her.
The U.S. firm that makes the shirts, Solid Gold Bomb, blamed  a ‘computer’ error for the offensive slogans.
But Tory MP Caroline Dinenage said: ‘These are ridiculous, mindless products for anybody to attempt to sell. It is absurd to say they were manufactured in error.’
A flood of complaints on social-networking websites prompted the decision by Amazon.
Solid Gold Bomb sold the short-sleeved t-shirts for between £15 and £17 on the warehouse website.
But potential customers were clearly not willing to buy the deeply offensive t-shirts, slamming both Amazon and the clothes shop, which has its headquarters in the UK.
Users branded the shop and its message 'disgusting' and 'disturbing'.
But on Solid Gold Bomb's Facebook page, someone wrote under the company name that they had 'no idea' that the message was printed and said it had been computer generated.
Founder Michael Fowler said: 'No words can express how I feel about what has occurred and in no way do I condone or promote this serious issue.
Vile: T-shirts with slogans saying Keep Calm and Knife Her and Keep Calm and Hit Her were still on Amazon today, but could not be ordered

Friday, March 1, 2013

I don't want to write about Nature

And now for something a bit different...  Here's a piece I wrote in my writers' group today.  The prompt was "I don't want to write about..."

I don’t want to write about Nature because I have nothing to say.  How can I admit to people that when I’m in the woods, my pervasive invasive thought is to worry that a branch will fall on me and knock me senseless?  I worry another flood will come like happened when we camped out when I was 9, and Agnes, the hurricane, rose overnight and knocked out the bridge so we had to hike out of the woods, forging streams that had turned into raging swells.  I worry it’ll be so cold we’ll wake up – or not wake up – with icicles on our noses, and I don’t have a dog or two siblings anymore to sleep with to retain at least a modicum of body heat like I did when I was 8 camping in the woods on the coldest August night on record.

I worry I’ll get tick bites and will end up with Lyme’s disease again and I won’t know it until the damage is so pervasive It ruins my life – sort of like happened two years ago when I finally got comfortable hiking in Larus Park in the Spring but then couldn’t explain the six week headache that literally flattened me for several days and turned out to be Lyme’s disease – maybe.

I worry about sand flies imbedding themselves in my thigh and my not noticing the spread of the red oozing gushy sore like happened to a friend of mine on the cruise two months ago.  I worry about organisms invading my digestive system and causing my stool to shift shape and color like has been the case since I returned from the cruise.

So I don’t want to write about Nature, it’s beauty, the connection I feel to God out there among the tress, the sand, the stars, the animals – those raging wild beasts whose only desire is to beat me to eating the food I’ve so painfully carried up the mountain – not for the bear – for me.  I don’t want to write about the cute little critters staring at me with their luminous brown eyes, the extension of God’s creation incarnate.  Those are the same damn ones that got into my house, crawled up and across the rafters then fell with a horrifying plop between the walls in the basement bathroom.  The one I had to listen to for days trying to scratch itself out of said walls as its scratches got weaker and weaker until finally they faded completely and the stench grew until it overpowered all reason and drove me out into the very outdoors I do not want to write about.