This guest post is part of Feministing’s collaboration with the 2011 Civil Liberties and Public Policy Conference, From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom. The conference is this weekend and Jos and Lori will be there representing Feministing and posting about the conference here. Stay tuned for more!
The Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) student group at Hampshire College begins organizing for the conference in the Fall every year, and they dive in to full-blown organizing come January. The local students and activists involved have been coordinating conference childcare, accessibility, and transportation. They are planning the space and programming for the conference Wellness Room, and they are planning and hosting Breaking Silences: An Abortion Speak-Out and The RePRODUCTION: An Open Mic to take place consequetively on first evening of the conference.
In addition to all of this, they have been tirelessly outreaching by putting up posters, sending email blasts, going viral on Facebook and Twitter, and creating video to inform people far and wide about attending the conference.
“From Abortion Rights to Social Justice…You’re Invited to the CLPP Conference” is one of these locally-made videos.
The conference is open to the public and we look forward to seeing you!
-CLPP Conference Organizers
Transcript after the jump!
Marlene Gerber Fried, Hampshire College Interim President and CLPP Faculty Director: I’m Marlene Gerber Fried. I’ve been a professor here since 1986 and also was the CLPP director during that same period until recently when I became the acting, and now interim president of Hampshire [College]. When I came into CLPP, there wasn’t really a structure for having the conference, and certainly nothing like what you all are partcipating in and have created now. And at that point, the breadth of issues was not as wide as it is now. It was the beginnings of broadening out. At the first conference there were like, 35 students, mostly from the Northeast, from private colleges. So it was a pretty undiverse, small gathering.
Betsy Hartmann, Director of Population and Development program, Hampshire College: It’s a really a fabulous and exciting time to be on the Hampshire [College] campus. I mean, we have over a thousand activists from all over the country here, and also international activists. It’s really a space for creative political thinking, for thinking about the future of our movements, for crossing movements, having cross-movement conversations, for bridging differences between us, and exploring those differences in a safe space. It’s also a place where people can speak out about their experiences with abortion and feel safe about it.
Emily Ryan, CLPP Student Group Co-Coordinator: Leticia and I are the co-coordinators this year which means we lead the student group, we plan student group meetings, we organize things like t-shirts and tote bags for the conference, we provide backup on all the workshops and the seven committees of students, and transportation for speakers, doing childcare.
Leticia Contreras, CLPP Student Group Co-Coordinator: Lets just say that the campus is just…there’s just so much energy and vibration on the campus with activists and artists and social justice participants of all forms of the spectrum–people who really want to change the world, in so many different ways. And you feel that once you get past several miles of trees and cows. You feel thisnergy instantenously!
Maxwell Ciardullo, Past Conference speaker: I finally got things together, and put in an application to speak , and was able to come, and I spoke. I have spoken at two or three of [CLPP conferences] now. I think the CLPP conference is incredibly unique in that it values experience in a lot of different ways. The speakers are not just academics and not just people who are executive directors of organizations. People who I’ve seen speak there have all sorts of different experience–whether it’s in activism or community organizing, organizing in their community, and all different levels of educational attainment. And that’s something that’s really rare at conferences.
Corinna Yazbek, CLPP Program Coordinator: I think one of the most exciting things for me was driving onto campus and seeing the signs directing you where to go. And somehow the signs really drove home for me that this was a serious thing that was happening and it was really big and a lot of people were going to be here. Well over a thousand activists from all over the country! It wasn’t just a Hampshire College event. Usually, the first event I would go to before I started working (because I worked until the end of the day on Fridays) was the Abortion Speak-Out, which is Friday evening. And you would walk into the room and it was packed wall-to-wall with people who were just there to witness people telling their stories, their personal stories with abortion. That was always such an incredibly powerful event for me. It really started the weekend–grounding our activism in our personal lived experiences, you know, in the wide variety of ways that people experienced abortion and described it and contextualized it from across generations. I would sit there and I would think about my grandmother who had an abortion before it was legal in the 40s and my mom who had had one in the 70s and all of those eras and those different types of stories would be represented by the speakers, as well as people I was going to school with at the time or who I knew.
Unique Robinson, CLPP Alum, Conference speaker/performer: Wow! CLPP is turning 30! I think that it is solidifying what movements look like throughout the decades and how much they change.
Marlene: You know, to just be able to endure through so many different ups and downs of politics and economy is really a testimony to the generations of students who have been through this and who have built the program.
Unique: I mean, the same fire is there. There are definitely a lot of conversations happening intergenerationally with a lot of youth that are being involved. So, that’s students as well as the youth that are coming from all over the U.S. and globally–coming together with older folks who have seen the movement from its beginnings 30 years ago. And I think what that does is allow us to look back while looking forward. Of course, 30 years ago you are talking about Roe v. Wade, you’re talking about this amazing movement happening with 2nd wave feminism, with the civil rights movement–it just blew shit up in this country, LGBT folks taking a stand. So all of these were just beginning in a sense and things were really starting to shake up and now what you are seeing is the aftermath of that. And the grandchildren and children of the movement are now being the ones that are taking charge these days. So, it’s really a great place, I think, to have conversations that meet in the middle with people that saw it and with people who are benefitting from what happened 30 years ago, 20 years ago.
Marlene: What’s interesting is, I am often talking to even, say people of my generation, or people who support the conference, funders, or anybody. I say, “Okay, if you feel really depressed (especially people who are working in Washington who are really ‘down and out’ these days) if you want to come and feel that you are part of a movement that has vitality, is dynamic, and IS attracting new generations.” I cannot bear to hear one more account of how young people are not engaged, involved, paying attention—“they just need to come here and see it”. Sometimes people have said, “You know, you’re preaching to the choir.” And I don’t take that as a criticism. What I think is that the choir needs to practice, it needs to be re-invigorated, you know, we need to sustain ourselves as activists, we need to grow as activists, and that’s part of what the conference is doing for people, so it’s a real shot in the arm. Come.