Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Open letter about One Billion Rising RVA

Dear Friends,

I'm so grateful to you for reading my blog and for caring enough about issues I care about to follow my story as it evolves.  Today I have a request for you.  I am asking that you get involved in One Billion Rising wherever you live in the world.  Risings are happening in 182 countries, so you're very likely to find one within an hour or two of where you live.

If you live in Richmond, VA, you are in luck, because there's one happening at the Coliseum.  And I'm going to tell you all about it!

This past fall, you may remember, I went to a conference called Women and Power at Omega Institute in Rheinbeck, NY.  There I heard Eve Ensler, author of Vagina Monologues, speak about what she has seen as she's traveled the world, speaking with women from here in the US to the Congo to Bosnia and all around the world where horrors are being perpetrated on women.  I learned that one in three women will be beaten or raped or abused, or perhaps even killed, in her lifetime.  The stories Eve shared moved me to action.  She created One Billion Rising as a worldwide movement to bring attention to the fact that one in three women equals over one billion people on this planet.  Her goal, and mine, is to END violence against women.  NOW. 

I came home from the conference and immediately began to organize One Billion Rising RVA.  I am joined by a core group of four other organizers, and, with the
Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance as our fiscal sponsor, we are creating the main event for Valentine's Day AND a large number of complementary events throughout the months of February and March.  These events include Women Rise! (an art show with art which responds to the theme of women rising to end violence); 2 performances of The Vagina Monologues; 4 evenings of Beyond Barbie (the performance series I created in 2011 to accent issues of importance to women); Cranksrising, a scavenger hunt/bike race; and others!  The support from the community has been tremendous and leads me to believe that the time is ripe for bringing awareness to this issue and that we can truly make a difference NOW!
So how can you help? 

We need everyone in the city to know about the event!  We are hoping to have at least 10,000 come to the event - women, children AND men - we love our V-Men!  We can't end the violence without men!    If you have contacts with the press, I would be tremendously grateful if you could get me in touch with them so we can get the word out most effectively.  If you can forward this email to everyone on your email list, that would be HUGE!

We also need financial support.  The Coliseum is being incredibly supportive and is charging us only the bare minimum to use the facility - phenomenal! - but we still have $5000 in bills to pay - not bad for an event which will reach, potentially, everyone in the city and surrounding area!  If you feel moved to make a donation, I would be very, very thankful.  You can donate through indiegogo at  You can even get thank you gifts like tickets to the Vagina Monologues or advertising at the event for your company if you'd like.  We would love to get Richmond's companies involved in this movement and in this event so the community will KNOW that this is important, not just to the people suffering the abuse, but to everyone.  Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse hurts business.  People suffering from these horrors are more likely to miss work and to be less effective when they are there because of the tremendous energy it takes to deal with the fallout of it.  By supporting this event, you are supporting your employees - and most likely many of your loved ones - and showing them you, too, want to end the violence.

I'm asking you to attend the event!  And encourage your loved ones and employees to come as well!  It's during the lunch hour, so you won't miss much work.  Walk over to the Coliseum and bring everyone you can think of.

We need over 300 volunteers the day of One Billion Rising.  If you have an hour or two you'd like to donate, or if you can bring your employees and have them do community service that day, yay!  We'd be delighted!

Please come to the complementary events as well!  They will be wonderful!

Thank you for taking the time to read this email.  I hope to hear from you and to learn how you feel you can help.

I'm attaching our press release here so you can learn more about the event.  Please feel free to forward it to anyone you would like.  And please get in touch if I can answer any questions or if you'd like to donate or volunteer!

Thank you so much.  Your support makes a difference.

Press release


Did you know that over 354,000 women currently living in Virginia have experienced, or will experience at least one incident of sexual violence in her lifetime? (Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, Center for Disease Control, 2010) Further, 971,900 (1 out of 3) Virginian women have experienced, or will experience at least one incident of severe physical violence from her intimate partner, including rape, physical violence, and stalking. (Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, Center for Disease Control, 2010.) These statistics are alarming. That is why the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance (Action Alliance) has partnered with over 60 community leaders, artists, performers, slam poets, musicians, and local sexual and domestic violence non-profit organizations, to launch “ONE BILLION RISING RVA,” a rally to raise social awareness about sexual and domestic violence and to call for an end to these horrors.

On February 14, between 11 AM - 2 PM, at the Richmond Coliseum, potentially 10,000 or more people will gather to call for an end to violence against women, to learn what's already being done and what needs to be done, to celebrate women's strength and empowerment, and to dance and feel the energy of 10,000 people united in a common cause.  It promises to be an extraordinary event, the first of its kind in Richmond! One Billion Rising RVA will be a joyful and empowering event that will include informative, sobering, and uplifting talks, slam poetry, music, dance, and art that is appropriate for all ages. It will also include a community resource fair at which community members will receive information about sexual and domestic victim services in Richmond.
ONE BILLION RISING began as a call to action based on the staggering statistic that 1 in 3 women on the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. With the world population at 7 billion, this adds up to more than ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. On February 14, 2013, V-Day’s* 15th anniversary, One Billion Rising RVA, in part sponsored by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance**, will join activists, writers, thinkers, celebrities, and women and men across the world as we express our outrage, demand change, strike, dance, and RISE in defiance of the injustices women suffer, demanding an end at last to violence against women.

 “When we started V-Day 14 years ago, we had the outrageous idea that we could end violence against women,” said Ensler. “Now, we are both stunned and thrilled to see that this global action is truly escalating and gaining force, with union workers, parliament members, celebrities, and women of all backgrounds coming forward to join the campaign. When we come together on February 14, 2013 to demand an end to violence against women and girls it will be a truly global voice that will rise up.” (To learn more about Eve Ensler and her intentions for One Billion Rising, please read the following article:, or her most current article in The Guardian:  Eve is a powerful writer who doesn't hold back!  She makes for great copy!)
The rally being held on Feb 14th is not the only event associated with One Billion Rising RVA.  There are also many complementary events being held.  Here is the information about those:

  • Two separate versions of The Vagina Monologues, both a community and a college (VCU) performance.  These will be held towards the end of March, Auditions will be held at the Action Alliance Headquarters at 5008 Monument Ave, Suite A, Jan 27, 1-4 PM and Jan 30, 6-8 PM.
  • Women Rise! is an exhibition celebrating women and our empowerment! Richmond area artists will be displaying their interpretation of the One Billion Rising theme in all media. The Opening Reception, including an Awards Ceremony and Juror's Talk by Susan Singer will take place February 9 from 1-3 PM at Crossroads Art Center at 2016 Staples Mill Rd. Artwork will be on display through March 3.  Entries are being accepted until Jan 25 and must be sent digitally.  For more information, please go to!services2/c1a63
  • CRANKSRISING by Women's Multisports of Richmond, Inc, February 9, beginning at 10 AM
    The concept is simple: The riders get a manifest with lists of local store stops and needed items, then they head out to see how many items they can buy and carry back to the finish. The fastest riders to navigate the streets and checkout lines win prizes, although it is not all about speed. One of the options on the shopping list will be a perishable item which will take skill to deliver. The pile of items gathered will benefit Safe Harbor shelter for survivors of sexual and domestic violence.  For more information or to sign up, please go to
  • Four new installments of Beyond Barbie: Four Fridays in February, the incredibly successful performance series launched by Susan Singer in Oct - Nov 2011 and produced by Dawn Flores this time around.  The segments will take place at Unity of Richmond, 800 Blanton Ave, Richmond at 7:30 PM, each Friday in February.  The four segments are as follows:

·         The Heart’s True Scale: An evening of storytelling with Denise Bennett, Friday, February 1, 7:30 pm
Lured on by a strange crow, a hapless Harper finds himself trapped in a deep dark cave . What he finds there will test the true scale of his heart (all puns intended). It's a story about the healing power of love even in the wake of violence and pain. The Heart's True Scale is an original fairy-tale for adults. Using voice and harp, humor and drama, Denise Bennett cleverly combines elements of traditional storytelling and theater to heal, captivate, and enthrall her audience.
·         Breaking Free: Transcending Barriers of Mind, Body and Circumstance, Friday, February 8, 7:30 pm
Each of us has barriers that we sometimes allow to hold us back, be they handicaps, mental illnesses, bad marriages, race, gender, prison or other circumstances. By witnessing the courage of others, we can increase our own courage and learn to break free. Produced by Dawn Flores with Susan Singer, and featuring Lisette Johnson, Jenny Warne, Jacqueline Jones and the work of Jess Lucia, this evening celebrates, through stories, song and dance, the lives of women who tapped into their own courage and resilience when confronted with life's extraordinary challenges.
·         Women in Power: Creating Roadmaps for Others, Friday, February 15, 7:30 pm
Produced by Dawn Flores with Susan Singer, this evening showcases women who have experienced, in profoundly personal ways, a need in their communities and have taken action to create or support programs that inspire, educate and empower others. Sylvia Clute shares insights into the inequalities within the criminal justice system and lays out an inspiring new vision of restorative justice. Kathleen MacDonald, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Gail R. Schoenbach FREED Foundation, powerfully and compassionately shares her knowledge and understanding about recovering from and eliminating eating disorders.
·         Sacred Circle Dance, Friday, February 22, 7:30 pm
Sacred Circle dance is an empowering way to reclaim wholeness by sinking into the body and building a sense of community through movement. In a safe and sacred space, Peggy O’Neill guides participants in simple steps in time to beautiful music from a variety of cultures. Peggy has been teaching dance since the 80’s and has lead local, national and international gatherings with grace and gentleness. This event is for women, men, and teens and no ability or previous dance experience is required. Proceeds will benefit One Billion Rising RVA.

*About V-Day
V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of Playwright/Founder Eve Ensler's award winning play The Vagina Monologues and other artistic works. In 2012, over 5,800 V-Day benefit events took place produced by volunteer activists in the U.S. and around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls. To date, the V-Day movement has raised over $90 million and educated millions about the issue of violence against women and the efforts to end it, crafted international educational, media and PSA campaigns, reopened shelters, and funded over 14,000 community-based anti-violence programs and safe houses in Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Kenya, South Dakota, Egypt and Iraq. Over 300 million people have seen a V-Day benefit event in their community. V-Day has received numerous acknowledgements including Worth Magazine's 100 Best Charities, Marie Claire Magazine's Top Ten Charities, one of the Top-Rated organizations on Philanthropedia/Guidestar and Great Nonprofits. V-Day's newest campaign is ONE BILLION RISING which will culminate on 021413 with a global action worldwide.
**About the Action Alliance
The Action Alliance’s mission is to ensure “that all Virginias live a life free of sexual and domestic violence.” The Action Alliance is Virginia’s is a 501(c3) and is the statewide coalition and leading organization for sexual and domestic violence services in Virginia. We are the umbrella organization for over 70 sexual and domestic violence nonprofit agencies in the commonwealth. The Action Alliance also operates a 24-hour hotline service for victims, provides training for professionals working in the sexual and domestic violence services, works with local government to improve response to victims, and launches public awareness campaigns about sexual and domestic violence, such as RVA’s ONE BILLION RISING to reduce sexual and domestic violence.

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