The Disappearance of Volunteering

This week was a week of thing falling apart. Ok, maybe not falling apart, but shutting down, with speed I could not imagine. It’s true that two weeks ago we lived in a different country and a different world.

We were ordered to work from home last Thursday night. The four of us still showed up in the office on Friday, for a variety of reasons, including one co-worker who was off on Thursday and didn’t check corporate emails:).

I wrote about the rapid museums and cultural venues closers, which followed. I was able to catch “the last of” most of them. And no matter how much my mind can understand the necessity of closers, my soul weeps.

As I’ve already mentioned, I went to escort last Saturday. It didn’t go great, and I promised to return when it is warmer. A woman with two boys stopped her car by the clinic and came out with a huge box of Girl Scout cookies – that’s for you guys! Each of us picked one:).

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Honoring the International Women’s Day

Last week, my friend posted about the 150th anniversary of the first women college in Cambridge, and I could not resist commenting that Knox college accepted female students from the day it was founded. 

My daughter Anna graduated from Knox, and I firmly believe the Knox was one of the best things that happened in her life. And one of the best things about Knox and its history is the fact that it would accept females and blacks from the very beginning, and never rejected any student based on lack of funds.  The college founders stated:

It is beginning to be believed, and not without good reason, that females are to act a much more important part in the conversion of the world than has been generally supposed; not as preachers of the gospel, but as help-meets of those who are, and as instructors and guides of the rising generations, not only in the nursery, but in the public school. It should therefore be an object of special aim with all who pray and labor for the conversion of the world, to provide for the thorough and well-directed education of females.

George Washington Gale

However, the history of women’s education at Knox was not so straightforward. First of all, the college founders belonged to their times, and although they believed the women should have access to education, they thought it should differ from what men were offered:

Under the influence of the Gospel a different station is allotted to her, she is regarded man’s equal in worth; and although her cares, labors and responsibilities, to a considerable extent, be in a different direction, yet they are no less honorable, and require no less of intellectual and moral culture than his

Hiram Kellogg

It took several years to come up with courses designed for women.

…fiscal restrictions delayed plans for an advanced female course of study at the College’s outset. When the means for a women’s course were finally realized, seven years after the College’s first class of men had entered, courses were initially held in the new Academy building that had been built for the College’s preparatory students (due to a lack of sufficient public education, the College maintained a preparatory school for younger students, male and female, seeking admission to the College courses).

It was not until 1856 that the College’s finances finally allowed for the construction of separate housing for the seminary students. 

Knox college

Separate social standards for men and women contributed to the perception that men’s and women’s education had separate purposes. When Knox College incorporated a college program for women in 1848, it was based upon the programs of other female seminaries and therein upon a tradition of separate education.

In 1860 – 70s then Board of Trustees President Howard Curtis was strongly supporting separation of men and women education, while Miss Lydia Howard, a principle of the Seminary worked on expanded curriculum

Here is what happened next:

On Friday, March 20, 1867, the debate came to a head. President Curtis and Principal Howard were engaged in an argument over the programming for the next year’s catalogue for the Seminary when President Curtis forcibly took the catalogue from Miss Howard’s hands in an act of physical violence. When word of Curtis’ behavior reached the students the fallout was immediate. The following Saturday morning the students, who largely disliked President Curtis but admired Principal Howard, turned out in numbers on the lawn of Old Main, ringing the building’s bell and causing a commotion. From one eyewitness account, “20 or 30 of the College and Academy students … had cut the rope of the bell [in Old Main] and were turning it over and over,” in protest. The students organized a sit-down strike on the lawn, staying away from classes that following Monday and Tuesday, and demanding President Curtis’s resignation. Late on Tuesday, the Board of Trustees acquiesced to the students’ demands, and asked for Curtis’s recognition.

As part of the controversy, Howard tendered her resignation as well, leaving the Board of Trustees with questions about the future of the Female Seminary at Knox. A Trustee “Committee on Seminary” reported that their actions in hiring Miss Howard to revamp the Seminary’s curricula had been “a new and somewhat hazardous experiment.” The Committee recommended changes in the oversight of the Seminary, saying that the interests of the Seminary should be decided upon by the Seminary faculty.

The actions of President Curtis and Principal Howard had focused attention on the Female Seminary, and in the 1869 catalogue it was reported that growing interest in women’s education had prompted the Board of Trustees to consider a plan of co-education. The catalogue further called it “a happy day … when the brief, irregular, superficial, and too often contemptible style of female education shall give way to a culture which shall furnish the same facilities for success in life … now accorded to men.” By the next year, 1870, the Board of Trustees took the final step of merging the men’s and women’s courses and awarding women Bachelor’s degrees for the first time. Although the Female Seminary would remain open to accommodate women who did not desire a degree, women who were adequately prepared could follow the same coursework as their male counterparts.

I think it’s a great story, and it is very appropriate to remember on the International Women’s Day. Nowadays, when you visit Knox college and look at the graduation pictures of the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th century, you can see approximately the same number of male and female graduates.

Still earlier than Cambridge 🙂

Goodman Theater: Roe

Today, Igor, Mom, and I went to see a new play “Roe” in Goodman Theater, and it was so powerful! Everything: the play itself, the performance, staging, actors – everything was excellent, and the content is mind-blowing.

As you can guess from the title, the play is about Roe vs. Wade. To be more precise – it tells the actual story of the case, told separately by two women: attorney Sarah Weddington and plaintiff Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe). 

Turned out, I knew nothing about the story. Yes, I heard that “Jane Roe” ended up speaking against the Roe-v-Wade amendment, but I knew nothing about her as a person, about her story, her circumstances. To put it bluntly, she was misled by two young attorneys, who made her believe she will be able to have an abortion, which was not going to happen. She was designated to suffer “for the sake of future generations of women.” Which leaves the audience with an eternal question – can good cause justify all means? 

That’s exactly what I said after the show, at “Drinks and Discussion” after-show event. The even was full, and all the participants had chance to share their thoughts and to talk to the actors.

The play is incredibly deep and moving. It gives voices to the people from all sides, and it does not provide an out-of-the-box answer. I highly recommend it, o matter what your political affiliation is and what your believes are. It runs for three more weeks!

March for Life, and a Very Small Protest

It is hard for me to write about Saturday’s events because I feel like we (pro-choice activists) lost miserably. I am going to copy the summary of the even from Igor’s Flicker album: 

Album description

Every year, on the second Saturday of January, pro-life groups organize March for Life in downtown Chicago. This year, one new addition was a pro-life organizations convention and an evening banquet at Congress Hotel. (You had to pay to get into the banquet, but the convention was free, but you had to register ahead of time)

This year, the pro-life groups assembled at the Daley Plaza for a rally featuring several pro-life speakers. Then, they marched toward the Congress Hotel, where they had another rally and some prayer circles out front, even as some marchers slowly but surely headed out, and some groups boarded the buses to get to… whereever it was they came from.

There are usually counter-protesters, and, this time, they assembled at the southeast corner of Dearborn/Washington. My mom, who was there earlier, mentioned that there were speakers, and a number of pro-choice activists attended. But by the time I crossed to the pro-choice side after taking the photos at the Daley Plaza, most of them were gone, and Revolutionary Communist Party members and affiliates took the position. They mostly chanted about kicking out Trump and Pence, and about no war in Iran, with only occasional pro-choice chants. When the March for Life left the plaza, the pro-choice chanting (and some pro-choice taunting) started at its earnest. While a few pro-lifers did try to talk to the Communists, and some pro-lifers clearly wanted to shout at the Communists, it didn’t get beyond shouting.

Also, there was a “patriot” group at the southwest corner of Dearborn/Washington. While RevComm shouted some anti-war slogans, members of the group shouted something along the lines of “no war in Iran, save the babies!”

Igor

So – yes. I knew about the counter-protest, but the weather was miserable, actually, let me put it very miserable. For a moment, I was not sure whether I am going to go. Still, after all, I did, and I am glad I did! 

Yes, there were speeches, and I recorded a couple, but I was really upset with the low number of pro-choice activists that showed up. The picture looked horrific, and Igor’s pictures look even scarier… I can’t understand why so many people are … just not getting it! 

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Booth Women Connect Conference

On Friday, I attended the Booth Women Connect Chicago conference. Our CEO asked all the women in the leadership position in our company, whether they want to attend. All of us said – yes! Ten of us for the 60-employee company – I think it’s very impressive!

There were opening remarks and a keynote, which we all attended. Also, there were four sessions when we could select one out of eight different workshops to attend. Choosing was extremely difficult!  

I liked the keynote by Ann Curry. As for the sessions, the first one I’ve attended was a panel, “The Future of Work.” It sounded fascinating, the abstract said:

The transformations facing the future of work will feel like tidal waves disrupting all industries and, subsequently, all career paths. These transformations will span organizations and most of their roles, and all types of business models will be disintermediated. In this panel, we aim to raise awareness of what is happening, why, and how to empower us to be proactive with learning transformations.

So, let’s together redefine “work”! A one-size-fits-all workday is a thing of the past. Automation, artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies are bringing a world of new products, methods, and experiences to our doorsteps that are far more efficient, but unpredictably disruptive in their impact.

How do individuals empower themselves in the face of all of this change at work? How can we turn this period of technological and human change into an occasion to create more rewarding jobs and build better learning systems and career pathways? How might companies embrace flexibility in a structured way?

Join us for a lively discussion around how technological disruptions have transformed global labor markets, impacted gender parity in the workplace, and created opportunities to redefine what work is. We will share cutting-edge research and discuss how organizations whose employees are empowered to be a part of this citizen-led automation will be the winners of tomorrow. We’ll aim to have you return to your organization better equipped to make your workplace work for you, your colleagues, and your clients.

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The Confrontation

Igor wrote an article about last week’s rally, which was finally published a couple of days ago. When being at the rally, he took a lot of pictures, of which I wanted to show these two.

Pro-life and pro-choice activists face off
Pro-choice counter-protesters move to a pedestrian island

Can’t stress enough – it’s scary when there are fifteen of you against the five hundred. Marching with thousands feels good. Standing against the big crowd requires courage.

The Counter Rally Against Pro-Life Activists

The first political protest I ‘ve organized happened on January 2017, and that was a very successful one. But back that everybody was freshly angry with Trump, and in three days it grew from four people going to come to seven hundred people who came. But again, it was back then. And a reason for the protest was an elected official who didn’t want to meet with his constituents. 

That time was different. Only 15 people had shown up. And a protest itself was different.

***

Igor forwarded to me this facebook event more than two months ago. The pro-life people were planning a big rally in my hometown. My first reaction was: I can’t stay silent. I thought that if I don’t speak, any woman in Palatine who faces abortion will feel like committing a horrible sin. My second reaction was: that’s my hometown. A small one. Everybody knows everybody. I knew the rally was going to be huge. I felt scared to stand against my neighbors. 

And then, this email was sitting in my inbox for quite a while. And after quite a while, I forwarded it to one of the escort leaders. She replied – thank you! We will send somebody. And then again, nothing happened. Then I’ve sent it to the leader of the women section of the local OFA. 

Things finally started to get in motion, and I saw that the counter-rally began to appear on the calendars of many progressive groups. At some moment, I was still not sure whether anybody would come. As I’ve said, there were only 15 of us, and when the pro-life people came, they blocked our signs, and we had to move to the opposite side of the intersection. Their rally was massive. We learned later that many of the rally participants came from other places, but it felt like the whole town is against us. 

We are getting ready
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Labor Day in Pullman

I have four hours on the Wolverine train to Ann Arbor, MI. I have a comfy seat, an electric plug, and the internet available, so it’s a good time to catch up with everything :). I returned from Wisconsin on Saturday of the Labor Day weekend, so I still had two full days and a little bit for myself. Usually, on Labor Day, I try to do something meaningful, something related to the holiday. And most of the time it means visiting Pullman.

Igor talked me into visiting it for the first time in 2014. I didn’t know anything about its amazing history back then and readily absorbed all the information. At that time, everybody was talking about getting Pullman the status of National Park, and in 2015 this happened.

This year I thought there is no way I can spend almost the whole day on this trip. But then I made some calculations, and due to the new Metra weekend schedule, it all appeared to look doable. So the decision was made, and I told Igor that I am coming.

We were hoping that the new status would escalate the restoration efforts, but the Florence Hotel is still closed to the public, and the factory restoration is still in process.

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