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Monday, March 12, 2007
Gather the Women
I recently read the book Urgent Message from Mother: Gather the Women Save the World and while I had issues with parts of it, I found it very moving and inspiring. The concept of women gathering to work peacefully and collectively for change is contrary to the typical power plays of this world. Through books like this that remind us of the collective effect of women to make change and of things like the original purpose for something like Mother's Day (read it here) we can dream about steps we can take. So I was interested when as I was reading that book, to hear about the Standing Women movement. Has anyone heard of this or participating in it?

Here are some of the details and background from the website -

The women of Ohio call upon the women of the world, from the day-old babies to our most senior elders, to stand with us to save the world.
Sharon Mehdi wrote a wonderful short story for her five-year old granddaughter, The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering that has inspired us. A quick summary of the story is:
A busboy who worked in a café whose window faced the public park noticed that two grandmotherly looking women had been standing in the park all day without moving at all and without talking. They were dressed up in their Sunday best and were just staring at the town hall. He asked the other patrons in the café what they thought the women were up to. They speculated on a variety of things. Then, a five-year old year who was in the café spoke up and said "One of them is my grandmother and I know what they are doing. They are standing there to save the world." All of the men in the café hooted and howled and laughed. On his way home the busboy decided to ask the women what they were doing and sure enough their answer was "We are saving the world."
Over dinner that evening the busboy told his parents and he and his father hooted and howled, but his mother was totally silent. After dinner, the mother called her best friends to tell them.
The next morning the busboy looked out the café window and the two women were back, along with his mother, her friends, and the women who had been in the café the day before. All were standing in silence staring at the town hall. Again, the men hooted and howled and said things like "You can't save the world by standing in the park. That is what we have armies for," and "everyone knows you have to have banners and slogans to save the world--you can't do it by just standing in the park."
The next day the women were joined by the women who were in the café the day before and a number of their friends. This brought the local newspaper reporter to the scene. He wrote a derisive article about the women. The day after it appeared, hundreds of women showed up to stand in the park in silence. The mayor then told the police chief to make the women leave because they were making the town appear to be foolish. When the police chief told them they would have to disperse because they didn't have a permit, one of them responded that "we are just individuals standing in our public park and we are not giving speeches or having a demonstration so why would we need a permit." The police chief thought about this and agreed with them and left the park.
At this point 2,223 women including the mayor's wife, the police chief's wife, and one five-year old girl were standing in the park to save the world. The news quickly spread and soon women were standing all over the country. The story ended with women standing in every country throughout the globe, standing to save the world. See www.grandmotherbook.com.

Please stand with us for five minutes of silence at 1 p.m. your local time on May 13, 2007, in your local park, school yard, gathering place, or any place you deem appropriate, to signify your agreement with the statement below. We ask you to invite the men who you care about to join you. We ask that you bring bells to ring at 1 p.m. to signify the beginning of the five minutes of silence and to ring again to signify the end of the period of silence. During the silence, please think about what you individually and we collectively can do to attain this world. If you need to sit rather than stand, please feel free to do so. Afterwards, hopefully you and your loved ones can talk together about how we can bring about this world.

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posted by Julie at 11:28 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 3/13/2007 12:50:00 PM, Blogger Jemila Monroe

    Thanks for sharing this Julie, I love this idea. Any thoughts on how to actually implement something like this?

  • At 3/13/2007 01:23:00 PM, Blogger Miz Melly

    just go stand in a park until someone joins you, i guess.

  • At 3/13/2007 06:10:00 PM, Blogger Lydia

    I have no idea how to implement this successfully, but the idea itself reminds me of many of the passive and/or nonviolent resistance techniques I've heard about in the past.

    As such, it really appeals to me.

  • At 3/14/2007 03:55:00 PM, Blogger Lori

    So my partner in life is a very practical man, always looking to implementation. Being married to someone like him has challenged me to think more tangibly than I otherwise might, so here's a question that he (and now I) might ask: how does this change the world? So we fill the park--but how are things any different now than before? Shouldn't we perhaps have a specific goal in mind? (the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, in Buenos Aires for example, stood in silence w/pictures of their missing children, asking without words for information and justice).

    I should add that in addition to asking this, I've already put the book on hold at the library to read to my daughter. :)

  • At 3/16/2007 09:01:00 AM, Blogger Janice

    Lori, I had the same thought as you -- what does this do or how does it change anything? I'm still not too sure...other than it raises awareness or gathers attention. But one thing I thought about as I was asleep/partially awake this am, was about the possibility of something like a balloon release - helium balloons with tiny prayers or messages attached, names of fallen soldiers, or other lives lost due to war, hunger....maybe a website link - on a tiny paper attached to the balloon. After so many minutes of silence - a silent balloon release. The balloons found will spread the message to others, be a symbol as the soar to the sky..etc. Now I realize there may be some environmental concerns - not sure if there are any biodegradable balloon materials etc. . . .

    The other thought was a dove release (epxensive) or butterfly release but neither of those carry a tangible message....and I'm sure some PETA people won;t like that for whatever reason...

    But anyway *smile* those were my thoughts on waking this morning. I'm interested in others thoughts on the standing project...implementation, etc.

  • At 3/17/2007 04:51:00 PM, Blogger anne

    I love this idea too, and the "little story" that keeps growing. I think each person who stands alone and sends up a prayer and thought of peace will make a difference. As followers of Jesus, we embrace supernatural mystery and one is the spiritual power of prayers. May the energy of all them blanket the earth this Mother's Day.

  • At 3/19/2007 09:31:00 AM, Blogger Janice

    Anne, I agree with you, each person will make a difference, through the power of prayer and also through the impact on themselves (just the experience). We were talking this weekend about 'belief' and prayer and whether or not 'we' act like there is power in prayer.....I think a lot of the faith community sees prayer as a last step rather than a first action. In that regard I think we've lost a lot of the mystical aspect of our faith. :(

    Just taking part in this can be seen as an 'action', its not really passive.....and I think thats great. There are also those who might want more 'action' or might want to carry the idea through in a different way which I think is great too.

    I will be spreading the word in my community and see what kind of response it gets and what the women want to do. Should be interesting!

  • At 3/19/2007 11:48:00 AM, Blogger Rebecca

    "Women In Black" have been standing in front of the Texas Capital in Austin at noon on Wednesdays for as long as I can remember. Someday, I'll join them.

  • At 3/19/2007 01:07:00 PM, Blogger Janice

    I"d never heard of women in black - so I did a quick search, here's the website Women in Black
    Didn't get a chance to read about it yet, but thanks for the heads up!


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