We at CLPP are celebrating our 30th anniversary. Who do I mean by "we"? I mean you, me, and everyone else who has moved in, out, and through CLPP and PopDev programs. Whether you've participated in or spoke at our annual conference, been a RRASC intern or supervisor, taught out of the Population in Perspective curriculum, attended NLNI networking meetings and leadership institutes, made things happen on National Young Women's Day of Action, wrote a DifferenTakes, attended a convening or strategy session, built a collaboration, took a college class, wrote a fabulous Div III Hampshire College thesis -- you, me, us, we are CLPP's history of building the movement for reproductive freedom.
So be part of writing our story.
I began my journey with CLPP in the Spring of 2005. I was a first year student at Hampshire College and I found my activist and academic home by stumbling upon a conference organizing meeting. Over the last six years, I've done just about everything that I could do with CLPP and PopDev. I wrote about a lot of it in "Notes from a CLPP Alum" in the Spring 2010 issue of The Fight for Reproductive Freedom. And the most exciting thing, is that I'm still doing it as CLPP Program/Communications Coordinator and as one of the 30th anniversary blog coordinators for 1981 through Tomorrow: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom.
One thing that I never did was take a class with Marlene Gerber Fried or Betsy Hartmann. Did you? I'd love to hear all about it.
I have many cherished mentoring and learning moments with both Betsy and Marlene though. One that comes to mind was in early April 2008. It all started a week or so before the conference. We were finalizing the line up for our closing plenary and found that some of our speakers couldn't attend. Crisis moment, right? Well, after a slight whirlwind of brainstorming and organizing activity, I was asked to relinquish my role as moderator of Linking Movements and to take on speaking in it instead! I was just a student at the time - a student who had just come back to school after trying (unsuccessfully) to drop out of college. And for some reason, I agreed.
So fast forward a few days. It's Friday, April 4th, and the conference is about to start. I had been doing some thinking about this closing plenary business and the nerves were mounting. I sought out Marlene and I said, "I need you to mentor me." So the two of us sat down, right there, on lobby stairs in Franklin Patterson Hall and we talked about our ideas (which turned out to be more or less one in the same). Sunday rolled around and I found myself seated in front of a microphone and surrounded by some really stellar reproductive justice, prison abolition, queer rights, and immigration activists. Loretta Ross, Dean Spade, Vanessa Huang, and Flavio Risech-Ozeguera -- to name a few. And I just launched into my story of how reproductive justice is how I make sense of my life and all of the things that I do in my day. Five or ten of my best friends were seated in the front row. A friend's parent told me afterwards that she cried.
The point is that I learned something about myself that day. I learned that I had valuable stories to tell and that I had the ability to tell them. I was supported and guided and mentored. By Marlene and by the confidence of all of the CLPP and PopDev Staff (Mia, Amy, Corinna, Elizabeth, Betsy, and Ellen). By friends who lent me a blanket and an ear for my impromptu "speech writing" the day before the plenary. I soaked in all of the guidance that I could get from my elders, my colleagues, my friends, and my peers, and I sent it back out for all of the plenary audience to take with them.
I would love to learn about your CLPP and PopDev moments. Were there times where you received the mentoring that you needed from our faculty directors, from CLPP and PopDev staff, from student organizers, or NLNI peers? Do you have a CLPP or PopDev story to tell? Post it here on the blog. Or email me and the other blog coordinators - Courtney and Anna - and we'll help you post your story.