#GAGCoriginals Original content from gotagirlcrush.com Vashon Velvet Sarinya Srisakul The Majestic Sk8 CrĂź Adina Wolf LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN
Got a Girl Crush [got] [ey] [gurl] [kruhsh]
1. An expression of a particular and wonderful type of affection, which is neither specifically about or without attraction. 2. A blog and magazine about the badass accomplishments of women in hopes to inspire others to do the same. Volume 3, 2017. @gotagirlcrush gotagirlcrush.com/tagged/gagc-originals layout by Sonia Ana Ortiz soniaaortiz.com
4/20 Women & Weed Featured Interview: Vashon Velvet Photos by Amber Fouts (originally photographed for Seattle Met) Interview by Meg Wachter & Jen Levy (of Greyhorse BK)
“‘How would I feel about starting a pot farm?’ The last words I was expecting from my mom.” — IVY GRESS Can you introduce yourselves? How did Vashon Velvet start, and what is your favorite part about being in the cannabis industry? Susie Gress: A few years ago I guess
you’d describe me as a typical soccer mom. Then my husband passed away suddenly and my daughter went off to college. I had to rethink my life. There were a few false starts––I found I don’t want to live in Florida for example. While exploring how to reset my future I started reading about cannabis as medicine. I have a science background so it intrigued me. I found some seeds and started a little indoor grow, but I was still thinking of it as just a hobby. Then Washington announced their rules for getting a license to grow cannabis and click––that little little light bulb you see in cartoons went on over my head. There was a 30 day window to apply for a license, and if you missed it there would probably never be another chance. The application
didn’t cost much, so I decided to send in the paperwork and see what developed. From there doors opened, the way they do when you are on the right path. Luckily, I had my sister Kay, Seattle’s top designer, to call on to create our packaging and artwork, and my talented daughter to create a brand and get us on the shelves. Kay Rice: Vashon Velvet started out as quite a surprise of an idea, that I was 100% into from day one. I have no clue how to grow, but I love graphic design & packaging. The beautiful thing was that we all had our unique talents that we brought to Vashon Velvet - and not having any pre conceived ideas on how to grow or how to package, we did what we felt was right for us. My favorite part of being in the business is being so proud of our product! Ivy Gress: I was just graduating from college and was ready to send in my acceptance to law school when my mom called and said she had a question, “How would I feel about her starting a pot farm?” The last words I was expecting from my mom. But I couldn’t pass up the chance to be a part of what I saw as a once in a lifetime opportunity. I decided to put aside my law school plans and move back to Washington after graduation. To me the decision was easy, and about much more than cannabis. I was raised by two true self-made and scrappy entrepreneurs, with my Mom being the force that guided my Dad to success. My mom’s new venture into cannabis was an opportunity for
me to learn from my parent’s business experience while being guided by the strongest woman I know. What makes Vashon Velvet different from other cannabis farms? Susie Gress: Being run by women makes more of a difference than I thought it would. Most of the male growers I know spend a lot of time on what I call plant torturing. They trim and prune, twist and bend, until the poor plants look like poodles. We have a more motherly approach to growing. We honor the plants, and believe they know how to grow. Happy plants resist pests and disease, and make the best buds. Our flower room is a happy place. I was really proud when Dr Ethan Russo, a world famous cannabis researcher, visited our farm and said it was the most pleasant grow he had ever been in. We are dedicated to growing with environmentally conscious methods and with natural nutrients, so use all high quality LED lights designed to provide the specific light spectrum plants need. We grow hydroponically because it is the most water conservative growing method––not a drop is wasted. Plus, in my trials, the soil grown plants produced smaller buds.
“Being run by women makes more of a difference than I thought it would. Most of the male growers I know spend a lot of time on what I call plant torturing. They trim and prune, twist and bend, until the poor plants look like poodles. We
have a more motherly approach to growing. We honor the plants, and believe they know how to grow. Happy plants resist pests and disease, and make the best buds.” — SUSIE GRESS How would you describe your experience in working together as a mother-daughter duo? In what ways does that affect your personal relationship with one-another? Susie Gress: I am the first to say that we would not be where we are today if it weren’t for Ivy. When you start a business it takes 150% of your time and energy, and if one partner is ready for that commitment but the other isn’t it’s a disaster. While I concentrated on growing plants, she took the lead on everything else- getting the packaging designed and ordered, handling social media, and most important, building relationships in the industry that put us on the shelves. There have been times when we have butted heads, sometimes she wins and sometimes I do, but at the end of the day we take off our Vashon Velvet hats and are mom and daughter again. I think she is the brightest, hardest working woman on earth and I think she feels the same about me. Does it get any better than that? Ivy Gress: This has been the best learning experience I could have ever imagined. As I mentioned before, my Mom has years of small business experience under her belt. From pulp and paper to garbage
to marinas, she’s proven it really doesn’t matter what industry she enters––Susan Gress is one of the strongest, most business savvy entrepreneurs out there. Beyond learning how to deliver the perfect sales pitch or how to analyze P&L statements, my mom has taught me the importance of kindness in business. From her I’ve learned that when you are kind to the people you work with then people want to be kind to you. Happy employees means a happy workplace means happy plants means incredible cannabis! Having my mother as my guide, my boss, and my business partner has been a blessing to say the least. In this situation, having my boss also be my mom means that every move we make is done with both me and Vashon Velvet’s success in mind. It doesn’t matter how healthy the culture of a company may be, there’s not a CEO in the world who will have your back like your own mother. What has been your personal experience in being a female-owned and operated business in the cannabis industry? Susie Gress: It’s funny, but I didn’t think about being woman owned as anything special until someone mentioned it. Maybe it’s because anyone entering the cannabis world tends to be pretty progressive, but I can’t think of any time we have been treated with anything but kindness and respect from the retail store owners or other growers we deal with, men or women. I am the only woman on the board of the Washington Cannabusiness
Association. Most of the men on the board own companies much larger than ours, but they always go out of their way to be helpful both in business and personally. Of course I come from a time when discrimination was not subtle. As a chemical engineer working in the paper making industry, back in the day I was told I should stay home because I was taking a man’s job. Thank goodness those days are gone––I hope. Ivy Gress: This is always a tricky question for me because I understand the uniqueness of our all female company, but at the same time I wish accomplishments weren’t associated with gender. My mom has always taught me that true feminism means I am just as capable as my male
counterparts––I am not a female in cannabis, I am a person in cannabis. That being said, I think the question is asked so often in this industry specifically because cannabis has traditionally been geared towards males. You see it less and less today, but when we were first getting started bikini models were used to sell anything from a dab rig to hydroponic nutrients. Personally I believe my experience as a woman in business in cannabis brings me roughly the same challenges as any other woman in business. Hopefully one day we will feel less of a need for women specific business groups. To me feminism is about equality, I believe women belong in the larger conversation.
Are you concerned about our current administration their stance on marijuana – recreational and otherwise? Susie Gress: Attorney General Sessions has said that he probably won’t go after states that operate under the Cole memo, a list put out by Obama’s attorney general that said the fed’s won’t bother states that do things like keep pot away from children, don’t allow interstate transfer, etc. We are very lucky in Washington because our Liquor and Cannabis Board has done a great job of creating a system that closely follows the Cole memo, so we should be protected. My concern now is the new Drug Czar, Tom Marino. He has consistently voted against things like allowing CBD as medicine, and says he will only vote for cannabis if thorough research shows it is effective as medicine and then it must be in pill form. So much ignorance about this wonderful plant. Why do you think there is still so much stigma surrounding the use of weed? Susie Gress: To me it’s amazing how fast it is becoming accepted. I grew up in the reefer madness days. We were told if we tried one puff of marijuana we would end up in a ditch with a needle in our arm. I think the media attention given to the obvious benefits of CBD as medicine was the first crack in the wall. People who would never dream of ‘getting high’ go to a store for CBD and become educated about our bodies endocannabinoid system,
and the medicinal effects of the whole plant, including THC and terpenes. What are your favorite uses for marijuana recreationally? What are the best success stories who’ve heard of it used medically? Susie Gress: Uh oh, don’t get me started. First I would like to correct some common misconceptions. All marijuana is medicinal, both THC and CBD strains. Even the state of Washington had to admit this when they tried to make separate rules for medical and recreational pot. The only difference is that cannabis sold with the state ‘medicinal’ sticker has had more tests done to detect illegal pesticides. Second, world famous medicinal cannabis researcher Dr. Ethan Russo, MD, has taught us that 100% CBD does nothing, and 100% THC will leave you curled up crying in the fetal position. You need a combination to be effective as medicine, which he calls the entourage effect. In combination he says that there is no doubt cannabis kills cancer.
“I am not a female in cannabis, I am a person in cannabis. ” — IVY GRESS I have been researching cannabis as an aid to women who lose their sex drive after menopause. It’s something people joke about, but it ruins a lot of marriages when the husband still wants a sexual relationship and the wife would much rather read a book. I searched the world for a cannabis strain that would be an
effective aphrodisiac for women (men have entirely different CB receptor distribution) and I finally found it in our Canna Sutra strain. Women’s reproductive systems are rich in CB 1 and CB 2 receptors, and a little smoke of Canna Sutra can work wonders. I have given talks to several women’s groups about how cannabis has been used for ‘female complaints’ and as a female aphrodisiac by my many cultures throughout the world, for thousands of years. Some of the women I speak to come back to tell me that not only had they “totally forgotten how fantastic sex can be”, but that it had reinvigorated their marriage in a way that carried over to a renewal of affection they hadn’t experience in years. What plans does Vashon Velvet have for the future? We don’t want an empire, we just want to be able to grow great medicine. Our biggest problem has been that we can’t grow enough to keep up with demand. We are working with some other growers who haven’t been able to market their product very well. We want to share our special strains and growing methods with them, and perhaps allow them to grow under our name so more people can enjoy Vashon Velvet’s beautiful cannabis. What women do you currently “crush on” or admire? I definitely have a crush on Jody Hall, owner of the cannabis edibles company The Goodship, as well as the Cupcake
Royale chain. She is nothing short of inspirational. Jody created ‘Higher Education’ nights, that remind me of something where Gertrude Stein and Hemingway would have hung out. She invites an interesting speaker to explore a topic like infinity, or architecture of the future, and asks guests to come “preloaded’. They are the hottest tickets in town. When I asked Jody the secret to her bold business decisions she said “Just keep looking up, never look down.” Great advice.
“ALL marijuana is medicinal... The only difference is that cannabis sold with the state ‘medicinal’ sticker has had more tests done to detect illegal pesticides.” — SUSIE GRESS vashonvelvet.com @vashonvelvet
Interview with Sarinya Srisakul, President of United Women Firefighters Interview by Katie Edmonds Photos: Sarinya & her dog (courtesy of Sarinya Srisakul), photo in gear: Nicholas Truong, photo in gray tee: Sue Schaffner as part of a Visual AIDS project Women firefighters and officers only make up 0.5% of the FDNY, which is shockingly a historic high. While the number has grown from past years, this is the lowest percentage of women firefighters out of all the major cities in the United States. Sarinya Srisakul, President of the United Women Firefighters (which represents
the 57 women firefighters and women fireofficers who work for the FDNY) says, “We have a real opportunity to make great strides in changing the landscape for women firefighters in the FDNY. This job will change your life.” I’m guessing there’s a lot more to being a firefighter than extinguishing fires and extracting people from burning buildings, but I don’t know what that is. Can you walk me through a typical week in your life? Sure…I actually balance my time between the firehouse and running the United Women Firefighters. A typical light week in the firehouse is working two separate 24 hour shifts. We have a schedule of doing chores, tool maintenance and checks, drills and going out to do building inspections. We also collectively make
lunch and dinner together. In between these scheduled periods, we can get an emergency call any time. I work in a pretty busy area in Manhattan— there are a lot of people and a big night life so there is no shortage of going out the door. Obviously not all our calls are for fires. Even the fire calls for the most part turn out to be false alarms like people smelling their neighbors burning food or people smoking inside setting off alarms. But of course, you never know when it will be a big fire, and we have to be prepared for that. One of the worst fires in my career was a 7-alarm blaze that burned for over 24 hours. In addition to fires, we respond to medical emergencies, utility emergencies like gas and water leaks, stuck elevators, car accidents, people drowning, carbon monoxide alarms, and anything that doesn’t fit neatly in any other category like suspicious packages, hazard materials and increasingly, catastrophic weather related events like hurricanes and flooding.
the Vulcan Society to throw a firefighter themed obstacle course 5k and festival called “Are You Brave Enough?”. It was thrown the first weekend of filing for the FDNY firefighter exam to give attention to that since it only happens once every 4-5 years. We were signing people up for the exam right on the spot at the event. The last FDNY firefighter exam was in 2012.
A lot of the work in the United Women Firefighters (UWF) is centered around our training program and special events. The training program is for women who want to be FDNY firefighters and we have women in all different points of the process of trying to get into the FDNY. I personally go in to the program twice a month, as do the other women firefighters who are a part of the program. But I also handle the administration tasks that a lot of people don’t see. We also have a bunch of special events throughout the year. We just partnered with LUNA bar and
If FDNY achieved gender equity, how would that change how a day on the job looks for you?
We are also having an open house for women who have questions about our program or about being a firefighter coming up on Sunday, April 23rd at our home at the New York Sports Club at 217 Broadway, details at unitedwomenfirefighters. org. More details about taking the firefighter exam that is open now check out: joinfdny.com. What makes you a good firefighter? Empathy. The main tenet of doing this job to help others and being an integral part of the community that you serve.
For one, I would actually work with women in my firehouse! I’ve been on the job 12 years and have yet to be in a firehouse with more than just myself. It took me about 5 years to work with another woman, once! It was such a big deal that we took about a hundred selfies and couldn’t stop gushing about it! Nowadays, through our efforts, we are seeing a major shift in the numbers
of women. Our numbers have more than doubled since I started. The next crop of women who are graduating on the 18th will bring our numbers up to 63 and a couple of them will be put in firehouses with other women. Although it’s not much, it’s definitely a start and maybe one day if we reach 1% of the job, we can have it be more common that women get to work together and support one another. Right now we are at 0.5% of the FDNY. If FDNY achieved gender equity, what differences would New Yorkers see in the service we receive when we need you? Women citizens of NYC need help. If we respond to a medical call, and there’s a passed out woman naked in her bedroom, I’m the one in the crew that gets sent in. And for the person who needs help, there is a sense of relief and comfort in those compromised situations when they see me helping them. We get calls to women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, women’s apartments and even sensitive situations like domestic violence to women and children. Sometimes seeing a face that looks like yours gives a huge relief to someone’s emotional state. This also extends to cultural and linguistic diversity as in NYC we are one of the most diverse places in the world. Since I am Asian and multi-lingual, that has been advantageous for me to communicate or understand different situations that we might encounter at work. The main reason Got a Girl Crush is
so important to me is that I need to see women talk to each other about their expertise and aspirations. When you talk with with women fire fighters, what kinds of aspirations and goals do you talk about? Our mentorship of women firefighters starts when they are at the very beginning of their careers. We give them advice and help them navigate through the bureaucracy inherent in the hiring process of becoming a firefighter. Throughout their time with us, we are that voice and example that no matter what others might tell them, that they can be successful in this path as long as they put the time in and believe in themselves. When they actually become firefighters, some women can feel isolated as the only woman in their firehouse but when we get together, we find that we have a lot of common experiences. Personally, I am just as inspired by the young women as they are by us more seasoned women. It makes me proud to see all of their hard work and ambition come to fruition. When I was younger I very seriously considered working in emergency service. Ultimately I decided I was more bookish than heroic, but sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like. Do you remember deciding to do this job? A friend of mine dragged me to a presentation at FDNY headquarters for their recruiting season that year. It was the year after 9/11 and the city was shook for
the most part and economically starved. As I sat in the chair and watched the corny presentation and “sizzle reel” (computer presentation with firefighters going to fires)…something came over me and I was stunned and inspired. At the time there were less than 30 women firefighters (out of a force of over 10,500)…maybe about 25? I was shocked but inspired to join. It was like a calling. At the presentation there were a few women firefighters there who I ended up building years long relationships with. A couple of them are my most cherished friends. But at the time they were my mentors. A few months later, I joined the women’s training program and fast forward to the present, and I am running it today! Time flies! By the way, I am also the first and only Asian woman firefighter in the FDNY. I am psyched for number 2(and more) to come along one day! How did you decide that the FDNY was the right place to be a firefighter? I am a New Yorker. Aside from becoming a firefighter like you, could you give me a recommendation about how to be more heroic? The main thing about being “heroic” is about helping others, especially those that face adversity. There is no shortage of being a heroine no matter what your personality is like. Especially in this day in age, there is so much adversity, especially here in the United States under
this current administration and there are many ways in which you can be heroic and resist. Heroism can look like: donating to Planned Parenthood or any other agency centered around women’s healthcare and rights, joining a picket line, protesting, signing a petition, helping your elders with their needs, volunteering at an animal shelter, picking up garbage at a nature preserve, working at a pantry or soup kitchen, organizing a fundraiser for a small non profit or charity, helping out your family (chosen family counts too), speaking up for marginalized people… I can go on and on. But heroism happens everyday and in every way. Ask yourself, what can I do to make my community a better place? That is the first step to being heroic.
Shredding the Patriarchy: an Interview with the Girl Skateboarding Crew Determined to Smash Glass Ceilings By Michele Zipp Photos by Mike McGregor & Michele Zipp Can you name a female proskateboarder? Probably not. But that’s going to change if The Majestic Sk8 Crü has anything to do with it. And start by remembering this name: Ruth “Ruthless Rainbow” Weinmann. Ruth aka “Ruthie”, 10, started this crew and she skates with girls from 5 to 12 years old from the Hudson Valley, New Paltz, and Gardiner, New York. Everyone is welcome. They named themselves Majestic Sk8 Crü after Majestic Park, where they skate in Gardiner. Though created to join forces with other girls, they have honorary members in their supportive brothers and even their toddler sisters. “You can shred with us” is a hashtag often used on their Instagram. Right before my own two kids joined Ruthie at Majestic to skate, we ran into her at our local Mermaid Parade—she was doing the parade on her skateboard in a rainbow Purr-maid costume. My kids took one look at her and their eyes lit up
with that “Yes! I want to know her!” look. Ruthie, at 10, was “much” older than my twins who were 6 at the time. But age didn’t matter to her—Ruthless Rainbow is an incredibly welcoming soul and an effortless leader. She has an air about her that makes adults want to know her—she’s just naturally cool. My kids wanted to skate like Ruth. And we didn’t pass up the invite to the next skate sesh at Majestic. Georgia, Ruth’s mom, found the kids an instructor in 19-year-old skateboarding competitor Ashley O’Gorman to come teach and inspire the girls (and boys) to skate. More kids started showing up and as a result of the interest and dedication, many of the kids joined Girls Riders Organization (GRO), the first non-profit group to support girls skateboarding, snowboarding, and in action sports. GRO started in 2006 by Courtney Payne-Taylor who was awarded the Everyday Heroes honor at the espnW: Women + Sports Summit last year. Payne-Taylor started GRO to empower and inspire girls after she saw how much skateboarding helped her through depression. She wants girls to know they are not alone; and that they are capable of doing whatever they set their mind to. Georgia runs GRO Hudson Valley NY Crew—the newest member of the GRO family. Currently there are 10 crews across the country … a number we expect to grow not only because the events they host are so incredible, but because skateboarding has finally been added to the Olympics and will make it debut in 2020. That isn’t lost on these
girls—they are setting goals beyond just learning to ollie. And they are building their confidence. I witnessed this just last week when my daughter was the only girl (and the only kid who wasn’t a teenager) at the skate park. There were five older teen boys skateboarding the ramps. At first my daughter was nervous to get in the mix of it, but she eventually did. As she set up her board to go down a ramp she waited patiently for one older boy to finish. It was her turn, but another kid was in her way. She called out and motioned to him, “Can you move over, please?” He didn’t hear her at first. So she said it louder. He moved. She skated the ramp and one of them even yelled out, “Nice!” I’ve seen the confidence build in these kids as they learned to skateboard, not only in their ability to try anything on the board, but beyond. And the spirit that GRO and The Majestic Sk8 Crü fosters for kids is one of helping each other succeed, and
grow, and to keep trying and not to give up. Nevertheless, she persisted … indeed.
“[Girl Rider Organization] wants girls to know they are not alone; and that they are capable of doing whatever they set their mind to.” I spoke with my two kids, Penelope and Hunter (twins, 7), along with Ruth (10), Arlo (5), Mia (9), and Helena (7) about what skateboarding means to them. They want everyone to know #youcanshredwithus. Michele: How did The Majestic Sk8 Crü start? Ruthie: The Majestic Sk8 Crü started because I had no one to skate with and I wanted to skateboard again. I begged my friends Piper and Sema to skateboard. They said “Yes” and we had our first skate meetup. After three weeks, we decided to make it a club. Younger kids were coming with scooters and bikes and we
banned them so that only skateboards were allowed. We met every week and named ourselves “The Majestic Sk8 Crü” after our home park. Kids I didn’t even know started showing up. I feel like we started a movement! What made you interested in skateboarding? Ruth: When I was younger, I saw people skateboarding at Majestic when I went to summer camp there. It looked cool and I wanted to try it. I wasn’t scared, I was “nerv-e-cited.” Penelope: Ruth. I loved seeing her skate for the mermaid parade. It made me want to learn. I thought maybe I’d get real good at it and then become a skateboard teacher. Hunter: I thought it was cool. I was afraid at first, but I got brave. We do lots of fun things together—we do the indoor park when it’s cold and we even had a Halloween skating party where we all skated in costume. I couldn’t wear my Hulk mask when I went down the ramp though because my helmet didn’t fit over it. Helena: I thought the ramps looked fun. Mia: Well, I love all things on wheels. So I thought this will be awesome. Plus, my Dad used to skateboard. Then I just fell in love with it. How would you describe The Majestic Sk8 Crü? Ruth: Are there words? How do I put it in words? The Majestic Sk8 Crü is a family—we are funky wackadoos who are
mostly daredevils who love each other. Mia: The Majestic Sk8 Crü is the best. Everyone is really nice. I enjoy watching everyone. What has be a part of this group taught you about friendship and helping each other? Ruth: It’s taught me that you’re never too late to learn and complete opposites can be best friends. All you need is a little time and patience and a good feeling and you can do anything. I like to encourage my crew to do what they think they can’t do. Helena: We are fast and fun. We all help each other learn to skate. Penelope: I love us all being together with each other and learning from each other. I want to skate like Ruth when I get bigger. Hunter: I do, too. Ruth always helps me. Everyone does. I like seeing everyone try new things because it makes me want to try to do it, too. During the warmer months, you had a skateboarding teacher come to work with you all. Can you tell me a bit about that experience? Ruth: Ashley was amazing! I went from just being able to go down ramps to almost getting my ollie because of her—that’s a big step. She helped a lot of kids learn the basics and always made time for me. Mia: She was really nice and an awesome skateboarder. She taught me how to do a ollie and gave me the courage to go down a ramp.
Skateboarding is finally recognized by the Olympics. What are your thoughts on that and what changes would want to see as far as the sport and how it is viewed? Ruth: YAY! Finally—Olympics! I think what people think needs to change. They think of girls as pretty princesses and boys as knights, heroes, skateboarders—all that cool stuff. Girls aren’t encouraged to be risk-takers and seeing girls shredding is unexpected. Hopefully the world will see that girls can do anything and belong on skateboards. Penelope: The Olympics are great. I hope to be in the Olympics someday. Hunter: Yeah, it’s awesome. I want to be a professional skateboarder. And a pizza maker. Mia: A boy in my class told me skateboarding isn’t a real sport. Now he can see that it is.
Hunter: It’s togetherness. How has skateboarding empowered you? Ruth: It makes me feel confident, strong, independent, and RUTHLESS. Helena: It gave me lessons to be brave and do more tricks than I used to be able to. Penelope: I feel proud when I’m able to do a new thing. Hunter: I’ve gone down ramps by myself now and it makes me feel I can do things I thought I couldn’t do. Mia: I feel stronger. What is your latest skateboarding accomplishment? Ruth: I mastered all the ramps at Majestic. I can drop-in in a bowl and rock to fakie— most of the time. Arlo: I ALMOST can Ollie! Helena: I am working on Ollying.
What does being a feminist mean to you?
Penelope: I can do the ramp by myself now.
Ruth: Being my own person, not what anyone expects—standing up as a woman and being unstoppable.
Hunter: Me too!
Arlo: Everything—like love everybody besides yourself. Helena: Being kind to everyone. Penelope: It means love and care and being together to get things done. Mia: That we all have equal rights and there are no boy or girl sports, it’s just sports.
Mia: Going down ramps. Sometimes at your skatepark, there are older kids there—most of the time all boys. How do you feel about skating with boys? Are they welcoming? Ruth: I don’t mind. Now that we’ve gotten to know them. At first they were annoyed by us and intimidating. They actually really help me and challenge me. I see what they can do and it makes me want to try it
... I like having my girls with me though. Arlo: Yeah. I like the big guys. They probably feel good about me and them. Hunter: Not all of them are welcoming. Penelope: They are distracting, but it’s a park for all of us. I hope they are okay with us skating there, too. But my brother is a boy and he’s great. He’s part of our crew. Why do you think there are more boys who skate than girls? Ruth: Skateboarding has always been boydominated. If you search skateboarding on google, you’re going to find more boy pictures than girls. That’s the truth ... it’s back to that pretty princess thing again. That isn’t who we girls are. Penelope: I think there are more girls. At least at our skate park there are when we are all there together.
You are now an official GRO chapter— how has those events shaped you? Ruth: GRO is amazing! People coming together to help others—girls teaching girls. I love meeting new girls who haven’t skated before and want to learn. It’s all about learning together, cheering each other on, and teaching each other. Mia: It’s cool that it’s growing and inspiring more girls.
“The Majestic Sk8 Crü is a family —we are funky wackadoos who are mostly daredevils who love each other.”—Ruth, age 10 What have you learned from other GRO chapters? Ruth: The GRO NYC crew inspires me— they taught me to do my first drop-in. I skated with them in Riverside Park and 181st Street. I learned so much and felt
amazed at what they could do and that they wanted to help me reach my dreams. Skating with the NYC girls at midnight in this lit-up savage skatepark under a bridge was probably one of the best times I ever skated. GRO NYC is like our big sister crew. I also met my good friend Zoe at a GRO-event in Asbury Park, NJ. I just keep meeting all these amazing girls through the female skateboarding community— and every one of them is full of love and encouragement and can shred! What are you hopes for GRO Hudson Valley and Majestic Sk8 Crü? Penelope: I want to learn to do the skateboard limbo. And get better at the ramps. I wish we had a good indoor place closer to our house so we can skate more.
Maybe they can build that. Hunter: I want to do a 360 and go to more things. I take karate and hip hop dance, every week—I want to do skateboarding in every week, too. Ruth: I want our crew to grow. I hope GRO becomes well-known where we live and everywhere and more girls decide to try skating. I want to try to skate every day and I’m stoked to have girls to shred with. We also want to make Majestic an Olympic-worthy skate park—think concrete and a big concrete bowl. We can always dream facebook.com/GirlsRidersOrg instagram.com/girlsridersorg instagram.com/grohudsonvalleynycrew
Interview with Adina Wolf from UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women Inteviewed by Reemé Idris Photos by Amanda Stosz and provided by UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UN Trust Fund) awards grants to initiatives that demonstrate that violence against women and girls can be systematically addressed, reduced and, with persistence, eliminated. Since its creation in 1996, the UN Trust Fund has awarded $129 million USD to 463 initiatives in 139 countries and territories.
Completely inspired, we partnered with the UN Trust Fund in 2014 to support their outreach within the fashion industry to raise funds and awareness. In an age where social media fosters social movement, we (The Generalists--Reeme Idris and Zapher Idris, a sibling duo who provide marketing and production services for fashion labels and agencies, retail landowners and consumer brands) developed a website to showcase supporters and products that contribute to the Fund, as well as collaborating with friends for a private sector steering group and an International Women’s Day panel discussion on women’s economic empowerment. I’ve witnessed the incredible energy of the Fund’s secretariat team and wanted to learn more about what propels
External Relations and Advocacy Analyst, Adina Wolf. When did you join the United Nations Trust Fund (UN Trust Fund) to End Violence against Women team? I joined the UN Trust Fund in June 2014 and it is a privilege and honour to work in a team that empowers women and is comprised of professionals that work tirelessly each day to promote gender equality. So far in my career, I’ve worked to advocate for increased funding and awareness for causes I truly believe need more attention and resources. I studied Public Policy in graduate school and throughout my education I engaged in internships and studied to work in the public sector. It’s empowering and rewarding to engage in this level of work, knowing that I have a responsibility to women and girls around the world. How did you get started? I started working for UN Women, which manages the UN Trust Fund on behalf of the UN System, in 2009 as an intern. I’ve worked in several positions through my career so far in both UN Women and with other NGOs (not-for-profit organizations) all the while focusing on communications, advocacy, and fundraising to advance women’s rights, end violence against women, and in general raise funds for causes that I support. The UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women represents the UN system - can you explain how?
The UN Trust Fund is a very unique and special team in the United Nations system. Twenty years ago, the UN General Assembly created the UN Trust Fund as a result of the 4th World Conference on Women (the same conference where Hillary Clinton declared “Women’s Rights are Human Rights”). One of the outcomes of the conference was to inject a greater global determination to end violence against women around the world. That’s right where the UN Trust Fund fits in. The UN Trust Fund gives grants to NGOs and Governments to run projects that prevent and end violence against women and girls. We represent efforts of the UN system and its member states to fulfill this promise made to women and girls. How do the UN Trust Fund grantees end violence against women? The UN Trust Fund gives grants through a rigorous and transparent annual process to projects dedicated to prevent and end violence against women and girls. Projects work broadly under three categories – to prevent violence, strengthen services for survivors of violence, and improve the implementation of national laws and policies to end violence against women and girls. These projects focus on the needs of their communities. For instance, UN Trust Fund grantees work to end violence against women in all its forms; which means projects can run the gamut from funding the only shelter for women survivors of violence in Tajikistan, enable a local organization in Nicaragua to start
a radio station that has programming on women’s rights and violence against women, and implement a programme in schools in Viet Nam to prevent violence against girls and keep them safe in schools. Of the many grantees the UN Trust Fund supports, are there any that have stood out to you personally? The grantees we support are truly inspiring and work tirelessly to make life better for so many people. Inspiring doesn’t even begin to describe the energy, time and tireless work that our grantees dedicate to make sure that women and girls live free from violence. One project that always comes to mind is a programme that I was lucky enough to visit in Istanbul that works with fathers to create nonviolent families. This project works with men and boys to create sustainable change.
with him and about his hopes and dreams for his daughter’s future. This type of change is happening around the world in communities, schools, and health centers because of our grantees. You can read more about this particular project here.
“UN Trust Fund grantees work to end violence against women in all its forms; which means projects can run the gamut from funding the only shelter for women survivors of violence in Tajikistan, enable a local organization in Nicaragua to start a radio station that has programming on women’s rights and violence against women, and implement a programme in schools in Viet Nam to prevent violence against girls and keep them safe in schools.”
It sounds like a deeply impactful way to encourage and include men in challenging the status quo. I heard from men who said that their children used to be afraid of them because of their actions and attitudes in their home. One man told me that before he attended this course, he didn’t know if and when he might be displaying violence or intimidating behaviour, be it verbal or otherwise. Through the course held in conjunction with a parenting class through their children’s school, this father was able to recognize these behaviors and make changes. The man then told me about how his daughter now chooses to spend time
Do you have a typical day? What recurs in your role?
My days are fairly varied, but with some consistency throughout. I focus on collecting stories and evidence from our grantees and pull out case studies, statistics, and results that will be informative and insightful to our supporters and donors. On a typical day, I’m writing and editing stories for our website that focus on specific achievements of grantees (you can read them here: untf.unwomen.org), manning our UN Trust Fund social media accounts, coordinating and collecting data from grantee projects for reports that we submit through the year, and communicating with various partners on projects that raise awareness and resources for the UN Trust Fund. A few times a year, I also have the incredible honour to visit some of the projects that are funded by the UN Trust Fund and see the results that the funds raised and projects funded have on the lives of women and girls around the world. Can you share some insight to forging relationships between the public and private sectors? The private sector has been a new, but exciting area for the UN Trust Fund to partner and create relationships. The UN Trust Fund is primarily supported by UN member states as its largest source of funding. However, to have a diverse range of audiences and contributors, the UN Trust Fund has created a number of unique and innovative partnerships with private sector businesses to diversify its resources and create space for advocacy
about the issue. The Fund has forged interesting partners with small womenowned jewelry companies, for example. A few of these partnerships create jobs for women artisans and donate proceeds to benefit UN Trust Fund supported projects. These partnerships are beneficial on myriad levels and the customer purchasing the item can know they are contributing to a world that is free from violence against women. You’ve been involved with the Orange Label since its inception, tell us more. The UN Trust Fund partnered with the London College of Fashion to design the Orange Label, which will soon adorn a variety of garments and goods globally. The Orange Label is a unique causemarketing initiative of the UN Trust Fund and will raise awareness about the issue and help resource the local and national programmes supported by the Fund. It will engage companies to contribute funds to support the UN Trust Fund by aligning their brand or a product and commit funds to end violence against. Including those in the fashion industry? LCF, as our partner, initiated a competition for fashion and design students worldwide. This competition culminated in the winners of the “Fashion Says NO” competition, which you can see here. In 2017, companies small and large will be able to show their commitment to ending violence against women through participating in the Orange Label. Stay tuned for more!
Have you discovered any particular challenges within cause marketing? People have so many places to donate their money to support truly worthy causes. To capture a greater subset of people and engage with companies that will take on the message of ending violence against women takes strong partnerships and advocacy. Connecting with partners and building relationships takes time, but in the end they lead to long term partnerships that engage new audiences to prevent and end violence against women and girls and thatâ€™s pretty fantastic to see come to fruition. I expect many readers are looking for tangible ways to contribute after learning more about this work. How can they get involved? The UN Trust Fund relies on concerned individuals around the world to help
spread awareness and raise resources to prevent and end violence against women and girls. Donating just $12 to the UN Trust Fund allows our grantees to reach one more woman or girl to bring this human rights pandemic to an end. People can help us reach more women and girls around the world in very tangible ways. They can also share our stories of change through social media on Facebook and Twitter. In addition, businesses big and small can soon contribute in advocating for an end to violence against women by partnering with us through the Orange Label. Please feel free to reach out to me for more details about how your company can get involved and partner with the UN Trust Fund under the Orange Label. *The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of UN Women, the United Nations or any of its affiliated organization
LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN Valentine Exhibition Reporting by Caitlin Crews
“HIV/AIDS is not the end, having no hope is. Our hope is through love and everything you see here” –Joyce McDonald LOVE POSITIVE WOMEN in its third year gathered on January 18th at Dieu Donné’s studios in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to create three paper-making valentine workshops over the course of one day. In collaboration Visual AIDS, the Fire Island Artist Residency, Dieu Donné and
the International Community of Women Living With HIV (ICW) gathered artists and women living with HIV to create 300 handmade Valentine’s Day cards with personalized messages that would be delivered anonymously. These gestures of love and support are in response to help lessen the stigma surrounding women living with HIV both locally and internationally. This project has seen growth over the years with participants, with both artists and women living with HIV being deeply involved in the card making process. With active members that continue to serve as a support system for this marginalized and underrepresented group of women.
Visual Aids hosted a pop up opening at the Office of bureau of General Services Queer Division. This exhibition was a night of showcasing the handmade cards as well as to share reflections of how this project impacts the lives of the participants and receivers of the Valentineâ€™s day cards. During the event six powerful women told their stories of not only living with HIV, but living their lives as positive women. Joyce McDonald, Shirlene Cooper, Wanda Hernandez-Parks, Lydia Bryant, Valerie Reyes-Jimenez and Cindy Krampah shared stories of their lives, families, love, and health issues that circulate their daily lives. As witnesses to this exhibition, with samples of the valentineâ€™s hung around, wrapping the room in a pink and red
hue, people listened to these reflections. Viewers became emotional, not tears full of sorrow for these women living with HIV--but the act of people being moved by women who are powerful, loving, strong and determined to continue to love others and most importantly love themselves. During this time of political uncertainty, that has become fearful for many women, people of color and members of the LGBTQIA community, it is a time that people come together to support every woman. Take a look and listen to the reflections below to show how positive Women continue to LOVE!
gotagirlcrush.com Volume 3 is a compilation of all #gagcoriginals interviews old-school zine style: Love Positive Women (HIV+ women who mail...
Published on May 4, 2017
gotagirlcrush.com Volume 3 is a compilation of all #gagcoriginals interviews old-school zine style: Love Positive Women (HIV+ women who mail...