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We stand on the shoulders of Giants

IMG_2185Meeting Jon was truly an honor.  This process of meeting women passionate about making a difference, by using their strong voices and working with others inspires me to be a better person.  As soon as Jon sat down her presence and energy feels similar to being wrapped in a warm blanket on an extremely cold day.

Jon works at a grassroots level, supporting and bringing her energy to the causes that most interest her: reproductive rights, economic equality and racial justice.

Her gentle demeanor and steadfast assuredness helped me understand that we are still facing the battles that ignited her activism flame 40 years ago, however Jon believes that “there is power in groups to make change, by having each others backs and with good leadership, and by hacking away at the patriarchy, every little bit counts.”

Her lesson to us – things will happen if we have patience and persistence.  By raising your personal awareness of the issues surrounding us and listening to the problems our friends and neighbors face, we are able to approach our work from a place of true compassion and empathy.  More nuggets of wisdom from this amazingly, humble lady will be in our book.

 

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A Westchester Woman’s Cause to Protect Playland

FullSizeRenderGrowing up in Larchmont Deirdre has many, happy, childhood memories of going to Playland, including stories about her mother’s equally happy memories in the park as a child.  This emotional, historical, connection has meant her single-handedly protesting Astorino’s every move because of his desire to destroy this county landmark as a happy place for all residents to enjoy.

Thank goodness Deirdre keeps both eyes and ears on Astorino’s back room deals, firstly his attempt to create a Chelsea Piers environment at Playland, which meant building a giant, private sports club for the wealthy county residents. By Deirdre raising local awareness to his horrendous project prior to the 2013 re election, it killed his aspirations. But his ongoing attempt to to rape county taxpayers in order to subsidize a corporate hedge fund’s ownership of Playland has Deirdre seething, and she is looking forward to mobilizing Indivisible members to push back with her on this ongoing crisis.  She is grateful the troops have finally arrived!!

Deirdre is a new friend, whom I instantly liked for her warmth, wit, intelligence, and mostly her love for dogs.  Without us all being active in the county I would have missed the chance of getting to know this amazing lady.

Stay tuned for more details in the book about the Playland saga, and what she is hoping will be a sensible solution to this complex problem.  With Astorino running the show it will always be a disaster, both for Playland and the County taxpayers.

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Westchester Women Working for Change

FullSizeRenderKristen, a successful TV news anchor with a law degree from Fordham University, moved from New York City to Chappaqua in 2004.  Because of her TV career she was well known in the town, but the bar raised even higher on April 9, 2015 when she came out as transgender.

Kristen had no political affiliation with any party when she was approached at the initial Indivisible Westchester meeting. So she was surprised when three prominent New Castle democrats urged her to run for town Supervisor.

At the public announcement that she was running as Town Supervisor in the hometown of the Clintons, and that she is the first transgender running for public office in New York State, attracted worldwide publicity, including Teen Vogue and Italian Vanity Fair.  All this publicity generating around Kristen will hopefully help to oust the current Republican Supervisor, who is a pal of Astorino. Times are changing Westchester!!

Meeting Kristen today reminds me how powerful the march in Washington resonated with everyone who went there that day, it has changed so many people’s lives.  How motivated we all are to make a difference, the magnitude of people in Washington, and throughout the world, who stood up to power that day will live in our souls forever.  Both Kristen and myself shed a tear remembering that magnificent, January day.

I am humbled Kristen agreed to speak to me today, and the book will cover more about her ability, as a public figure, to raise awareness that transgender people are the same as everyone else, and that her progressive values will make a difference in New Castle. She epitomizes the ideal to create change first in the town, that leads to the county level, then followed by the State.  This philosophy for change is how we will alter the current, political, American climate, by electing progressive democrats willing to start at the town level.

 

 

 

 

 

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Westchester Student’s Grassroots Healthcare Awareness Group

FullSizeRenderAs a fourth year PhD student at NYU, you would think Hannah wouldn’t have time to focus on researching and forming a resistance group under the Indivisible umbrella. But with her personal health issue experiences, she knew to make this a priority in her life.

Having always struggled with chronic illnesses which are deemed pre-existing under the Trump administration, and fully understanding the healthcare conversation being conducted under the Trump regime, Hannah’s urgency to form a grassroots group meant her forming Caring For Us Indivisible.

Unlike other people I have spoken to, who found Indivisible by bumping into members who were at events making a difference, Hannah discovered Indivisible listening to Rachel Maddow podcasts. By downloading the guide and doing some searching around, she knew there was an urgent need for a group to focus exclusively on healthcare.

Hannah understands the power of using social media both to build her platform and to raise public awareness about what is happening in Washington.  She describes her healthcare articles as “edutainment”, they are easy to digest by her members so they can share her posts with their family and friends in states where urgent actions need to be taken.

There will be plenty more about Hannah and her movement that is gaining traction  in the book.  I am sure we will be hearing and learning from Hannah for many years in Westchester.

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Westchester Women Resisting the Regime

FullSizeRenderAnita was born in the UK but grew up in Port Jervis, NY.  She distinctly remembers becoming a citizen at 10, and the excitement of finally belonging here.

After obtaining a masters in International Affairs from Columbia University, Anita worked in Washington DC under both the Bush and Obama administrations, Her work was both political and policy related, but coming from a foreign perspective, specializing in humanitarian assistance and post conflict reconstruction.

Anita worked on the Al Gore and Obama campaigns. So she has always been politically involved, but not on a grassroots level.  That all changed in March, unable to focus on her job at the UN, and not wanting to have any part of this administration, she left her full time job to focus on her children and volunteer her time actively resisting this new regime.  Anita is a force to be reckoned with in the future political realm.  I find her to be dynamic and incredibly aware of everything happening both locally, nationally and globally.

Read more about all the organizations she is involved with and the issues she believes in when the book is published.  Another incredibly interesting lady who is going places, let’s hope it will be in Westchester.

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Women for Change in Westchester

IMG_5173Although Farah was born and raised in New Rochelle, her parents are from Kashmir. This meant nightly, political discussions around the dinner table about the troubles in the stunningly, beautiful, Himalayan region of India. Growing up she spent her summers over there. This worldview gives Farah a strong understanding about what the true value of being an American means to her and her family.

Having marched in Washington, experiencing the overwhelming positive energy, and the day’s ability to shift the sense of anxiety we all had felt since November, she looked around at the thousands of people, observing the lack of flags in the crowd.

Farah returned home to Larchmont and started posting about the symbolism of the American flag in relationship to our values: Democracy, secularism, Justice, Tolerance, Respect and Diversity.  Her message was well received and gained momentum amongst her friends and local residents.

Her group #ourflag has around 680 members, with a Facebook page about positivity for all the American values we all share.  As Farah is a mom with 2 small children, I am once again in awe of the time and effort our Westchester women spend making a difference to keep our county safe from prejudice against one another.  My book will talk more about Farah’s speeches and events she has put together.

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Women making a difference in Westchester

monkimage.phpOnce in a while I meet one of God’s messengers, and I leave their presence knowing there is hope for a brighter future. For me, meeting Deirdra on Tuesday night was one of those special, rare moments in my life.

Similar to all the other women I have interviewed for the book, when Trump won the election she understood the need to become politically active again. For Deirdra, supporting local politicians’ run for elective office isn’t a new endeavor. After working for Nita Lowey on the hill, then obtaining a Public Policy Masters degree from Columbia University, she spent five years working in Andy Spano’s office while he was the County Executive.

I asked Deirdra to tell me her strongest argument for why Astorino needed to be voted out in November. Her primary complaint was his handling of affordable housing, in that he demonizes those who need it. “He has made affordable housing a dirty word.” Her powerful rhetoric in regard to homelessness resonates so strongly with my own sensibilities that I felt an urge to cry:

“Homelessness is an unnecessary crisis, when you’re homeless you have a lot of issues coming at you, one big issue is housing. If you’re homeless it is hard to get a job if you don’t have an address. When you get sick it is hard to get better because you’re living with a bunch of people. If you have children you have to go to a family shelter – housing is critical to uplifting all of us: as a county, as a country and as a society.”

I left Deirdra’s home feeling a better person for spending 45 minutes in her presence. There will be so much more of this interesting interview in the book coming out in September.

 

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