Monday, February 24, 2014

VDay One Billion Rising for Justice

“That we find freedom, aliveness and power not from what contains, locates, or protects us but from what dissolves, reveals and expands us.” Eve Ensler

Ms. Eve Ensler

After the heady experience of the wonderful Athena Film Festival, I knew I must buckle down a bit to gear up for VDay’s  One Billion Rising for Justice (OBR4J).  Having happily accepted the position of coordinating volunteers, I wanted to do a good job for this wonderful organization.  Eve Ensler started this organization 10 years ago.  From its website:  V-Day's mission is simple. It demands that violence against women and girls must end. To do this, once a year, in February, March, and April, Eve allows groups around the world to produce a performance of the play (The Vagina Monologues), as well as other works created by V-Day(for example “The Good Body”), and use the proceeds for local individual projects and programs that work to end violence against women and girls, often shelters and rape crisis centers. What began as one event in New York City in 1998 today includes over 5,800 V-Day events annually.

That is not to say I didn’t keep my now regular evenings at my Sojourn for music with friends. I have talked about Keren and her Sugar Daddies.  On Tuesday nights,
Gus Fafalios plays classic rock with his drummer, and often guests.  Last week was a wonderful singer, Allyssa.  This week it was with varied artists, including a young transplant from San Francisco, Andy Liszwski, who works in medical sales by day, and sings in subways for his art!
My PhotoSince it was the second week of the month, I headed to the Village to Cornelia Sreet Cafe early on Tuesday evening for Thomas Pryor’s “City Stories: Stoop to Nuts.”  On this evening, Tommy’s guests were all women artists.  From the program:  Sherryl Marshall is a New York singer who has worn any musical hats in her career.  Agatha Nowicki is an award winning actress/writer.  Regina Ress award winning storyteller, actor, writer, and educator, has performed as taught from Brazil to Broadway, in English and Spanish, in settings from grade schools to senior centers, prisons to Carnegie Hall, homeless shelters to the White House.” 
Marie's CrisisOf course, being in the neighborhood, I had to spend a bit of time at Marie’s Crisis where I was invited to sit at the piano with a couple of fascinating Ladies who invited me to some of their “Chick events”.  I hope that pans out.  I ended my night “at home” enjoying my music at Sojourn
Before buckling down to tackle VDay, and its volunteers, I headed up to the Kingsbridge Library in the Bronx where I had been admitted to a Memoir Writing class.  On Wednesday afternoons for the next couple of months, I will be spending time learning and honing my skills, surrounded by like-minded women.  I am excited and delighted. 
Photo: Hard to believe this was a week ago. Kind of wishing we had taken this picture at the beginning of the day, but the v-team still looks gorgeous even after a long day of rising. Love you guys! "Crew"
After all ready spending a couple of hours on the MTA to get to the Bronx and back, I headed back out to the gritty neighborhood of Buschwick in Brooklyn to stuff gift bags at the
Cobra Club/Yoga and Spirits, a cool neighborhood joint.  I have so enjoyed getting to know the small core of 
Yet another winter storm allowed me to hibernate the day before One Billion Rising for Justice.  I spent of the day on my computer, organizing, emailing, reassuring people that the show would go on, in spite of the weather!  Getting on the road at 6am, I decided to take a cab as the trains have been a bit iffy and crazy this winter.  One young Man walked past me on 2nd Avenue frustratingly muttering “Have the cabs gone on strike without telling us?”  I asked the Guy across the street trying to find a cab going in the same direction as me if he wanted to share, if a cab ever came.  One finally did, so we climbed in.  That 10 minute ride was very interesting; we managed to get our life stories shared.  (When I shared this encounter with my dear Friend, she explained that  many years ago, she studied this very phenomena is a graduate psychology class.  Apparently, it is not uncommon to share life stories with strangers in trains, plains, and automobiles!)

VDay’s One Billion Rising for Justice held at the Manhattan Center was special, emotional, fulfilling, and in spite of the weather, filled with amazing People.  From the Program: 
                                                              Just Love

                                Release. Embody. Love. February 14 NYC

               Join us for a journey from release through embodiment to love.                                                  

                                   Each talk throughout the day is connected.

The morning session was  Releasing the Trauma  with Maya Azucena. Eve Ensler, Dr. Hyun Kyung, Gabrielle Bernstein, Patricia Moreno, and Dr. Christiane Northrup.  The afternoon was Bringing in the Love with Maya Azucena, Meggan Watterson, Rha Goddess, Danielle LaPorte, Patricia Morena, and Eve Ensler to lead us in dance.

All day there were trained therapists and counselors on hand as well as bodyworkers (practitioners in Vikaz, Craniosacral Biodynamics,  Dynamic Embodiment, and massage therapy). 

Melissa Reiker leading dancers
While Just Love was going during the day, an amazing group of “Artivists” were snaking, dancing, flash mobbing all over the city.  Popup arts events were held including theatre presentations, media installations.  What a real treat, pleasure, and privilege to work with such wonderful People.    

Photo: Today's shout out is to the amazing NYC Artivist Committee and all of the incredible people who came out in full force throughout the city on 2/14.  I love you all, you made NYC RISE and I could not be more proud to be a part of this movement with you! Christina F. Liu, Joya Powell, Melissa Riker, Sumathy Kumar, Cat Watters, Vilma Lince, Heidi Russell, Lolan BuSe and SO many more (sorry if I missed you, make yourself known in the comments!!!!) Awesome photo by Paula Allen
Times Square Flash Mob

Heidi Russell

Come out to dance tonight at the Hammerstein! NYC dances!
If that wasn’t enough we then moved into a Dance Party: Rise NYC in the Hammerstein Ballroom. Batala NYC (the Women's Drumming Group I had met in December), DJ's Natasha Blank and Beverly Bond, Maya Azucena, Ramya Ramana, Eve Ensler,and many others entertained and led us in dance. Simply wonderful, magical day and night.

Photo: Eve thanking the brilliant V-day team x
VDay. Org at Rise NYC Dance Party


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