December 13, 2015
“Remember, Reflect, Respond”
A Candlelight vigil to help shine a light on the tragic toll of gun violence in St Louis
As part of a nationwide series of vigils near the anniversary of the massacre of school children and teachers at Newtown, Women’s Voices sponsored “Remember, Reflect, Respond” at St. John’s Church (The Beloved Community).
Music was provided by musicians from St. Pius V Church – Ruth Ehresman (our board member), her daughter Rose and husband Paul.
County Executive Steve Stenger and St. Louis City Mayor Slay provided proclamations to honor the day. Seen here with our president Lise Bernstein.
Lise spoke about the reasons for needing a vigil and asked those who have been affected by gun violence to stand – those who had family members killed or shot, who knew someone who had been a victim of gun violence or those who had heard gunshots near their home. At that point many in the audience stood.
Valerie Dent of STL Mothers in Charge talked about her two sons who were killed by guns. Members of her group – other mothers who have lost children – showed photos of the children lost.
Lois Schaffer’s 28 year daughter was killed when she interrupted teenage thieves who were robbing her house. Lois gave a moving account of her daughter and told how she determined to make a difference and work to to end gun violence and the proliferation of guns in our communities. She has authored a book about her experience, “The Unthinkable”.
The Rev. Ken McKoy’s son was shot last summer. His son survived but after realizing how many funerals he was doing for young people killed by guns, he has begun walking the streets of north St. Louis Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 10 pm until about 1 am. The St. Louis Post Dispatch wrote about his walks which he believe have prevented several homicides. Read the article here.
Carol Wofsey, co-chair of the Common Sense Gun Solutions Committee, then talked about responses to gun violence. She described our Lock It For Love program where we educate about gun safety and distribute free gun locks to parents who have unsecured guns in their homes.
Carol then introduced Rabbi Susan Talve of Central Reform Congregation who gave us the “call to action.” She urged us all to get involved and warned the gun lobbyists and the NRA to watch out! And she also said that politicians should be aware that we will hold the accountable for legislation to limit the number of guns in the country and to legislate for background checks.
Rapper C Sharp encouraged people to “Put the Pistol Down!”
As the program ended we all lit candles
Following the program we encouraged people to stop by our display table and get a gun lock.
Thanks to Barbara Finch and Carol Wofsey, co-chairs of the Campaign for Common Sense Gun Solutions, and their committee members. Also thanks to Women’s Voices’ Racial Justice Committee, chaired by Jeanne Bubb, for their help.
Many thanks to our co-sponsors: Central Reform Congregation; Eliot Unitarian Chapel; Ethical Society of St. Louis; First Congregational Church of St. Louis; Institute for Public Health, Washington University; Jewish Community Relations Council; Maternal, Child and Family Health Coalition; Metropolitan Congregations United; Missouri Chapter, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America; National Council of Jewish Women – St. Louis Section; Parents as Teachers; STL Mothers in Charge; St. Louis Area Parents of Murdered Children; and Vision for Children at Risk.
Thanks to David Doell, videographer. You can view the entire vigil here.
Gun Violence from the perspective of artists.
On Saturday, October 10, a small group from Women’s Voices took advantage of the opportunity to have a docent-led tour of the “Guns In The Hands of Artists Exhibition” which was brought from New Orleans to St. Louis in collaboration with Washington University’s Office of the Provost, as part of the University’s year-long initiative Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis. The exhibit is sponsored by the Sam Fox School of Design at Washington University.
Each artist has used decommissioned firearms to create works that express a thought, make a statement, open a discussion, and stimulate thinking about guns in our culture.
Thanks to Barbara Finch for arranging the tour and for those who participated: Joyce Borgmeyer; Stefany Brot; Peg Burdge; Mary and Dale Clemons; Sari Frieden; Nancy Galofre; Nancy and Gene Hutchins; and Carol Wofsey.
The show runs through November 21 at the Des Lee Gallery, 1627 Washington Ave.
Gun violence is a public health issue (the focus of the Washington University and Women’s Voices initiatives). This artwork shows the creation of a retrovirus to combat the disease.
A Shot Gun House (New Orleans). This “Castle” features the shot gun and posted signs – the one shown here “Turn Down Your Music.”
Ammunition is as easy to get as candy.
The artist of the work above left melted guns obtained in a gun buyback program to make man hole covers. The covers made in 1996 were placed in Hartford, Connecticut on a temporary basis. In Missouri our legislature passed a bill that will require any guns received in a gun buy-back program to be offered to 2 gun dealers.
June 28, 2015
How often can you walk down the street and have people cheer for you, give you high fives and thumbs up? Well, at least once a year if you walk with the Women’s Voices contingent in the Pride Parade. Member Priscilla Westbrooks who walked with us for the first time said, “I loved it! I couldn’t believe that people hooted and hollered the whole length of the parade!”
The weather was wonderful and the crowd jubilant. Thanks to Ann Ross for coordinating the event and for those who participated with us. Thanks also to John Jennetten for the photos and video.
Prior to parade – holding banner so our participants could find us — parade signs on ground
Kathy Straatmann and Priscilla Westbrooks – both first timers at the parade with Women’s Voices – Priscilla wore a rainbow tutu!
click on the photos to enlarge and read the signs
shown from left:
Dale Clemons with James Baldwin quote
Bunnie Gronborg – Francis Maude
Priscilla Westbrooks – Dr. Suess
and in back, Helen Houlle – Janis Joplin
Mary Clemons – Barbara Jordan
Joanne Kelly – 2 signs, one Robin Tyler
Susan Flanagan – Shelly Roberts
Judi Jennetten – Ernest Gaines
Kathy Straatmann – Joplin
Lorie Fox – Billie Jean King
Ann Ross – Barny Frank
And … Mary Schuman on right with quote from
LEARNING ABOUT FOOD JUSTICE – EarthDance Farm
A dozen members of Women’s Voices managed to avoid the rain on a steamy June morning for a tour of EarthDance Farm in Ferguson.
“EarthDance is an organic farm school,” explained Suzanne Hart, permaculture projects coordinator. All crops, which include vegetables, herbs, and newly-planted fruit trees, are grown without chemicals or herbicides, using time-tested principles of soil preparation and preservation, water conservation and planting. It is also a school, where dozens of people who care about their food and how it is grown come to study, learn and work each year.
Women’s Voices members learned about the best ways to conserve water, how to plant a herb spiral, and the benefits of pawpaws.