Last weekend I marched.
Taylor and I went down to DC on a charter bus full of women we found to be our neighbors who also wanted to be seen, and heard, just like us. We walked and chanted and yelled slogans for women's rights and then some. Sunday, as I sat and rested my legs from the day before, I felt overcome with determination to not let my anger and motivation disappear: I am going to be an agent of positive change.
To keep myself accountable, I'm writing my list here. I am acknowledging the resources I have, and can utilize to make positive change. I realize I can make the most amount of change in advocating for more diverse tech and design teams, creating opportunity and scholarships for minorities within design, and by bringing communities together, and that's where I plan to focus the majority of my efforts. I think, right now, that's the best I can do: figure out where I can make the most effort and do that.
1. AIGA's Diversity & Inclusion Initiative
Design in Central Pennsylvania is overwhelmingly white, and seriously lacking the diversity it needs to see design thrive, as well as solve that diversity issue on its own. So, we'll add a little growth. I plan to work with my board to establish at least one scholarship fund, providing at least one student of minority background some type of financial assistance while studying design at a local university.
I also plan to use the mentorship program I'm establishing with the chapter to focus on women and other minority emerging designers, pairing them with someone in the field, to help them grow as a designer and professional, and hopefully opening more doors for them, as they continue on in their career.
And, as I have been, I plan to continue to do everything within my power to find more diverse speakers. Our last two panel events I spent an overwhelming amount of time, emailing, calling and tweeting, only to come up empty handed and moving forward, I will continue to search and push for better representation.
2. Empowering ALL women in tech
Earlier this month, I finally put together the women in tech meetup I've been talking about for months (since elaConf, really). My plan, with that meetup, is to use it to reach out to, and bring together women in tech. Empowered women empower women and it is my hope that by creating a space for women to come together, learn together and celebrate one another, we will see our tech community continue to grow in every way it can. I'm also hoping to reach out to enough organizations and groups in the community to bring folks into tech, who maybe never saw themselves there!
I still plan to keep my involvement in the tech scene in other cities, to help bring knowledge back to our area and create opportunities for other women to attend those events too (carpooling, scholarships, etc.).
3. Creating Healthy Opportunities
This year I'll embark on a yoga leadership training program, where at the end I'll have enough hours to get my yoga teacher certification. Initially, I had no idea what I was going to do with it, other than use the certification to donate some time and classes here and there. Now, I know I'd like to use it to offer donation-based and free classes to benefit my community; reach out to local organizations and shelters to offer the services I have.
4. 52 Things in the Next 52 Weeks/10 Things for 100 Days
At the very least, I can help to provide space and community. But on a larger level, I'm working hard to hold myself accountable to follow through, check off the weeks on the lists. One one account, I want to make art that resonates with those who are feeling similar to I, and on another, I know I need to write my senators, my politicians, and make productive noise. Even if it's just space for right now, even if it's just postcards and protests. I try and tell myself that every little thing counts, when all of this feels overwhelming and so very large.
I want to donate my design, my development, my lettering services however I can, and if that sounds like something you maybe need, please, do, get in touch. I try to do a bit of pro bono each year, I think this year might be more than most.