Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stealing our rights

Recently I had a rather traumatizing experience. My car was stolen while I was helping a friend do some filming. I walked out the door of her house and couldn't find my car. At first I thought I must have parked it further down the street than I remembered but, alas, it was gone. But this is a blog about reproductive justice, not my personal life, so I will move on to my point. Everyday in America we leave our right to justice sitting outside, on the street next to the rights or freedoms of everyone else. We always expect it to be there when we wake up in the morning or when we come back from all our various endeavors. But someday it might not be. Even with a president-elect who supports women's right to chose and civil unions for lgbtq folk, we must always be vigilant. If we don't pay attention, our rights could slip away in the middle of the night and we won't know until it is too late. So wake up, pay attention, do something!

Monday, December 15, 2008

From a Pre-Roe essay on choice

The following is an excerpt from a paper written by a high school student in 1970. Enjoy!

"Religion should be the last thing to consider in state and national abortion laws. Many church leaders themselves are opposed to making their own standards mandatory for others. Boston's Richard Cardinal Cushing feels that Catholics do no need the support of civil law to be faithful to their religious beliefs, they should not seek to impose by law their moral view on other members of out society."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Our Friend Kate Lovelady of the Ethical Society wrote this awesome blog...check it out..
http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/civil-religion/churchstate/2008/12/why-i-will-no-longer-sign-marriage-licenses/

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Newsweek says what we've always known...

Newsweek's coverstory is something the folks here at Faith Aloud have always known....that there is indeed a religious case FOR Same-Sex Marriage

http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20081208/pl_politico/16305

TOMORROW!!!

Tomorrow is a very important day in the struggle for justice. A Day without a Gay is a national day of boycott to show the country the power LGBTQ folk and their allies have on our nation.

FOR MORE INFO CHECK OUT THIS BLOG:

http://showmenohate.blogspot.com/2008/12/day-without-gay-st-louis-121008.html

Monday, November 17, 2008

No H8

Congrats to the bunch of fierce people who spent a good portion of Saturday freezing their behinds off in St. Louis at the old court house to protest the passing of California's Proposition 8. Showmenohate.blogspot.com estimates the number of attendants to be somewhere around 1400. It makes me so happy to see so many people,Lesbian, Heterosexual, Bisexual, Gay , out there trying to make America understand that the government shouldn't be regulate morality. At Faith Aloud we often have signs that say "Keep the government out of the Pastor's/Rabbi's office" which really represents our views on this subject and others--the government has no business making laws based on any religious perspective. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!!! WE ARE WITH YOU!!!
JUSTICE FOR ALL!

Monday, November 10, 2008

FOR SALE!

We are so proud of our new name and logo that we had earrings made to celebrate!

Check this out http://faithaloud.org/onlinestore.php

I hope you’ll buy a pair for yourself or maybe as gifts for the holiday season. And please pass the word along about all the great things on our new website.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Unequal citizens…

Our nation is in schism. While we here at Faith Aloud rejoice over the fact that only one of four anti-choice propositions or initiatives passed (Arkansas’s adoption ban for non-married partners) we are deeply saddened that all three anti-lgbtq propositions to ban same-sex marriage passed. California’s proposition 8 will amend the California constitution to TAKE AWAY the right to marry someone of the same sex. What really saddens me is that other minority groups in California were instrumental in passing Proposition 8. But why? It wasn’t all that long ago that Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere." Isn’t denying any person the right to marriage an injustice? Isn’t the ban on same-sex marriage just the modern parallel of the ban on interracial marriage? It seems people don’t realize that taking away someone else’s rights doesn’t give them more, but rather increases the likelihood that their rights will be taken away too. While I applaud the California voters for voting no on dangerous abortion restrictions that would limit women’s rights, I am perplexed by their simultaneous willingness to take away the rights of other citizens. As we work here for reproductive justice we believe wholeheartedly in the words of Dr. King. We will not allow justice to be threatened on any front, and we continue to fight in solidarity with all those who feel they are unequal citizens in this country. We will not rest until religion is safely out of politics and until the government gets out of our beds, our places of worship, and our private decisions. Justice for everyone, everywhere…yes…we…can.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Update....

As many of you know we, here in America, have a new president elect...Barack Obama! But what you may not know is that another kind of Choice rocked the vote on tues. NOT ONE ABORTION BAN PASSED!!!!! Colorado amendment 48 which would have defined life as beginning at conception which would have essentially outlawed abortion DID NOT PASS, nor did South Dakota's Initiative 11 which would have banned abortions. Also Michigan passed proposition 2 which allows stem cell research. California's proposition 4 to require parental notification for abortions has yet to be called since there are still absentee ballots to be counted. While we celebrate these wins for reproductive justice we still have some loses to deal with. Florida and Arizona passed bans on gay marriage and Arkansas pass a very anti-choice measure with Initiative 1 which bans ANY non-married couple from adopting! Once again California's Proposition 8 which would ban gay marriage is still too close to call.
Overall, great job on getting out there and voting, but we still have a lot of work today.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

You Know You Exist When...

Check it out!!! We are on WIKIPEDIA!!!!


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith_aloud

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Compassion is the middle ground…

Often in the din of the abortion debate the voices of women are lost. Often the shouting between sides on many reproductive justice issues overshadows the issues themselves.
In the recent presidential debate Senator Obama mentioned finding a middle ground in the abortion debate. I think that the middle ground doesn’t need to be found, it already exists. The middle ground is about compassion. As the religious and ethical voice for reproductive justice, Faith Aloud believes that compassion is central to all conversations about reproductive justice. We believe that all people deserve compassion no matter what choices they are making and they need compassion in their decision making process. For most people compassion is hard to argue with. Choosing to end a pregnancy can be compassionate just like choosing to carry a pregnancy to term can be compassionate; being abstinent can be compassionate just like talking frankly about sexuality can be compassionate. Voting can be about compassion. Compassion can’t just be the middle ground of the abortion debate, or the gay marriage debate or any debate about reproductive justice—compassion has to be the foundation of these discussions.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Aloud to be heard cont.

Check out what we have been working on for Aloud to be Heard:




Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Talking About Silence…

This morning I was aghast to find that an anti-choice group was not only planning some very disturbing actions in schools on October 21st but also that they were simultaneously undermining the hard work that LGBTQ folks have done with The Day of Silence. The Day of Silent Solidarity is the anti-choice movements spin on The Day of Silence and it will take place this year on October 21st in schools across the country. Using the same basic idea behind the Day Of Silence, the anti-choicers are telling students to not talk all day long so they can be in solidarity with the 4, 000 “infant voices” that are supposedly silenced each day by abortion. Over sixty schools have been registered in Missouri including Ladue High School and all of the schools in the Parkway district.
Clearly, this action goes against many of the principles we believe in here at Faith Aloud. Firstly, the name invites an obvious and hurtful comparison between the silencing of LGBTQ folks by our government and our homophobic society to the choice some women make to end their pregnancies. Secondly, this day is a clear attempt to use scare tactics to silence the voices of women. Finally, the day of silent solidarity represents only one of many different religious beliefs on the subject of choice.
We here at Faith Aloud think that actions like this shouldn’t go unnoticed or unchallenged. So we have created our very own day of action in response—on the same day…October 21st 2008. We know this isn’t much notice but we are moving quickly. Aloud to be Heard is our attempt to let the voices of reproductive justice be heard above the din of the religious right. We will be creating a facebook event, as well as a myspace event, and we welcome you to check those out. We will be advocating people to wear purple on October 21st in response to the red color scheme of the anti-choice action. More updates will come including flyers that you can pass out and possible places to get buttons and stickers in time for the event. You can start by joining the group, and being aware that at schools all across the country on October 21st anti-choicers will be trying to silence the voices of people who believe they have the right to decide what happens to their body without condemnation from anyone, the voices of people who believe in a compassionate god/goddess that loves all of humanity.
We are also calling for people to use their voices by submitting their stories of choice...whether it be the choice to terminate a pregnancy, undergo fertility treatments, carry a child to term, adopt a child, use a sperm donor or surrogate, or any other story of choice...these stories can be posted anonymously here or sent via email to events@morcrc.org
Many people in this country have had their voices silenced…so let’s speak up because we are ALOUD TO BE HEARD.



dayofsilence.org –LGBTQ Day of Silence
silentday.org-anti-choice website
myspace.com/morcrc

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Theological Musings: Kelli Whitman

I have spent many mornings outside The Hope Clinic at Faith Aloud’s Faithful Presence silently opposing the protesters who chose to scream at the patients who enter the clinic and me as I hold my “I’m pro-choice and I pray” sign. These mornings have often prompted musings on what it means to be a pro-choice Christian who supports reproductive justice. Here are some of those musings: Does my view on reproductive rights stand outside my convictions as a Christian? Do they have to be mutually exclusive or can my religious beliefs in fact be the reason I am pro-choice? I couldn’t do the work I do every week if I thought the two were mutually exclusive. I look at scripture and see a gracious God who created humanity to be in relationship with each other, and trusted humans with the gift of free will. I see a Jesus who taught us to remove the speck from our own eye before pointing out the log in another’s and preached a gospel of compassion and acceptance. I stand on my UCC heritage which declares that “access to safe and legal abortion is consistent with a woman’s right to follow the dictates of her own faith and beliefs in determining when and if she should have children.” I look into our church history and see Augustine’s doctrine of original sin and the way it continues to warp thinking about sex and sexuality 1600 years after he first invented it. And although these convictions help me understand the intersection of faith and social issues, I am all too aware that the protesters also stand on scripture (however out of context it may be) and tradition to point out all the reasons I will burn in hell someday. Does one of us have to be wrong? Can we both be right? Does it matter? And if it doesn’t matter, why do I get up once a month to stare down 80 hateful faces and risk my own personal safety to say it does?

Friday, October 3, 2008

DO YOU WANT YOUR VOTE TO COUNT MORE?

Here is something really interesting for Students!!!!


Some friends created a website that helps college students figure out where their vote counts more: www.CountMore.org.

Two easy things you can do:
1) email countmore.org this to any college age friends and friends with college age siblings, etc.
2) join the Count More
facebook group.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

FAITH ALOUD IN THE NEWS!

Early this morning in the stltoday.com’s blog “Political Fix” an article was posted about our recent name change from The Missouri Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice to Faith Aloud. The press is great and we love being considered an important topic but the title of the article is misleading. We do far more than simply advocate abortion rights here at Faith Aloud. We support the entire goal of reproductive justice and the numerous other causes that intersect with it. Please comment on the article and let StlToday.com know what you think of what we do, the difference between abortion rights and reproductive justice and how essential it is to have a spiritual and ethical voice for reproductive justice. This is just one more way to get our voices heard. Let’s really speak out and let everyone know how much we love Faith Aloud.

Links:

http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/political-fix/political-fix/2008/09/missouri-abortion-rights-group-changes-name/

www.FaithAloud.org

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Your Silence Will Not Protect You -Audre Lorde

Even Judy Shepard thinks you should vote. In a recent talk at Webster University Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard said that voter apathy was a black mark on our country. It was so nice to hear someone else advocating for the power of voting.

There were other interesting intersections between Judy Shepard’s speech and the reproductive justice movement. For example Judy Shepard continually advocated telling “our stories” and how personalizing issues is essential in the fight to erase hate. Jennifer Baumgardner‘s book, Abortion and Life, seeks to do the same thing for women who have had abortions. Baumgardner who created the “I had an Abortion” project seeks to liberate women from the secrecy of abortion. Her book shows photos and shares stories of women who have had abortions—some famous, some not—and by doing so personalizes the issue of choice.

If we want people to understand the reality of abortion then we have to be willing to share our stories. We cannot let fear silence us. Similarly, if we want people to understand the intersection of LGBTQ issues, Reproductive Justice issues and matters of faith then people have to speak up about their experiences of living these intersections. We need Catholic lesbians who will talk about abortions and Jewish gay men who talk about sex-ed in schools. We need trans communities partnering with faith communities to talk about bodily autonomy and access to good reproductive health care. If we don’t all start raising our voices, by voting, by talking, by speaking out, how will anyone know that we exist? How will anyone know our needs aren’t being met? I can’t tell you how many times people have said to me, I didn’t know there were people of faith who believed that. Well of course you didn’t because people are talking about it. So let’s talk, let’s vote, let’s SHOUT FAITH ALOUD.

Links

http://www.matthewshepard.org/site/PageServer

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Proclaiming our Faith Aloud…

There is a new name to watch out for in the world of reproductive justice—Faith Aloud.


At an official meeting of the Missouri Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, held yesterday September 16th 2008, the Governing Board voted unanimously to disaffiliate from the national Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice and to continue their work for reproductive justice as a new independent organization called “Faith Aloud”.


Here at Faith Aloud, we plan to continue the mission of promoting reproductive justice goals through religious, spiritual and ethical communities. We will continue to fight for justice in legislature. We will continue giving spiritual support to women’s clinics. We will continue to train and inspire young people as activists for justice in their communities. We will continue to counsel women and families. We will continue to spread the word that people of faith consider sexual autonomy and reproductive freedom to be crucial matters of social justice and human rights.


Faith Aloud pledges to diligently explore the intersections of many reproductive justice and other social justice issues such as environmental, LGBTQ and economic justice. We pledge to keep growing and working until justice is a reality for all people regardless of gender, sexual identity, race, nationality, creed, ethnicity, sex, or economic status.


WE PROUDLY PROCLAIM OUR FAITH ALOUD.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Your Voice is more important than ever.

It’s true, even though it often doesn’t seem that way your voice, my voice all our voices still have a great deal of untapped power. I often wonder what happened to make the current twenty and thirty somethings so apathetic to the political process. I could of course venture a guess or two, but nothing I come up with seems to encompass the general malaise that seems to have permanently affected the x, y and z generations. Despite what you think, and what I think on my more pessimistic days, we still have a voice in the political process. First we have to vote… on everything. Imagine what the political landscape would look like if 100% of those folks 18-30 voted. Can you imagine such a thing? Everything could change. So get registered.

For Missourians, use this website: http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/s_default.asp?id=voter.

Otherwise check out : http://www.rockthevote.com/home.html.

Get your friends to vote. Get your coworkers to vote. Get your siblings to vote. I know everyone this time of year is talking about voting and such but seriously stop and imagine doubling the amount of voters under 30. Can we be that generation? Could we rival the 1960’s in terms young adult political activity?

Another way to get our voices heard is talk to our representatives. In fact, let’s flood their inboxes, mail boxes, and voicemail with our voices. Especially on issues that matter. Like the new The Department of Health and Human Services regulations 45 CFR Part 88 which will allow institutions as well as individuals to refuse to provide women access to contraceptive services and information, and redefines abortion to include common methods of contraception such as Birth control pills and IUD's. These new regulations conflict with requirements of the Title X family planning program which ensures that women have access to a broad range of contraceptive options and that pregnant women receive non-directive counseling upon request. You can read the whole document here: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2008pres/08/20080821reg.pdf .

How dare the federal government decide what’s best for all of us without hearing our voices. You can contact your representatives and senators using the following sites: https://forms.house.gov/wyr/welcome.shtml and http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm?State=MO .

I for one think it’s time that our apathetic generations get off our butts, stop simply complaining about the state of our country and do something. Clearly, the only option is raise our voices, to make our society acknowledge our ability to make good choices and to never be afraid to proclaim Our Faith Aloud.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Some pictures from the thank you party!

We hope you enjoyed the thank you party! We had a really nice turn out and all enjoyed the delicious food provided by Bryan Young catering. Everyone had a really nice time, and it was great hearing about the bike ride. Our intern, Autumn, put together two slide shows: a goodbye one for Adele and Saskia and a bike ride one highlighting Becky's journey. Here are some photos from the event!




































ps.

Thanks to C.J. for taking pictures!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The blog is in transition

Hi Everyone! We just wanted to let you know that the ride blog is transitioning to a general MORCRC office blog. All of the wonderful pictures and information from the Wanderlust ride will be maintained, but from now on the posts will be about all sorts of awesome pro-faith pro-choice activities.


Stay tuned!


Monday, July 7, 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Big Apple here we come..!

Above: Catching a train in NJ to get to Penn Station.

<--On the train into New York and finally after 5 weeks of bike riding across the country...(drumroll please!)....New York City -->





As you can see from the above sequence of pictures, the wanderlusters made it to New York! They arrived via train yesterday and were treated to a rooftop BBQ in Brooklyn by the PEP staff members. When we spoke to Becky last night she was enjoying the food and watching as fireworks went off in New York. Today she is busy enjoying a special treat set-up by her staff and friends back in STL and taking her bike to a repair shop. She leaves NY tomorrow afternoon and will be back to work next week. We can't wait for her to return!!!

Almost to NEW YORK



Becky left us a nice long audio recording about the ride the last few days. The Wanderlusters finished up a few days in Philadelphia and are currently riding through New Jersey. They will be entering New York sometime today or tomorrow and the ride will be over! The total mileage count will probably be close to 1200 miles..wow!

Here is a picture of a monument near the Delaware river that marks the spot where Washington tried to cross. Becky's recording talks about some of the recent meetings and the last bit of the trip. Enjoy!

Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #17 - Crossing the Del River

Monday, June 30, 2008

Philadelphia

<--Independence Hall, Philadelphia


Hello, all. Becky here. Thanks for sticking with my blog for all these weeks. It’s been fun for me to share my journey with you, and very important to feel your support and encouragement.

Yesterday we were headed into Philadelphia. The roads were busy and hilly. Once again, the van broke down. We had it towed into Philly to a Ford dealer, hoping and expecting they would honor the warranty by the Ford dealer who “fixed” the van in DC. No such luck. We’ve thrown thousands into the van and are not the least confident that it will last 2 more days to make it to NYC. We’re also at the point that we just don’t care if it does. We’ll just ride our bikes and have our gear shipped to us somehow.

Today we got to spend a whole day in Philly. Shelby and I went downtown to the historic district and then went shopping for something to wear to our party in NYC. Somehow we can’t bring ourselves to wear smelly, dirty clothes in NYC. Now, you might be asking “why don’t you just wash them?” They’ve all been washed, many times, but they look and smell no better. When we’ve washed clothes in campgrounds, we then tie them to the top of the van to dry on the way to the next town. As they flap up there with the extra bicycles, our clean clothes catch bike grease, dirt, and whatever blows down the highway. I cannot exaggerate how disgusting they have become. We are all looking forward to returning home and opening our closets to clean fresh clothes nearly forgotten.

We’re all a little concerned too about returning to our “real lives”. Today I had trouble remembering my work address. I think it will be rather disorienting to be back in regular communication with persons other than the 10 I’ve been living with. We’re not sure if we’ll know what to do without an entourage.

Tomorrow we’re in New Jersey, staying at the home of Nora’s aunt and uncle. And then on to our final destination. I am equally glad to have made this journey and to be coming home. I know I will be thinking about and learning from the experience for months to come. Here are some things I’ve learned so far:

I can bike just about anywhere, by myself or with others.

I can thank the hills instead of cursing them, for they make me stronger. (thanks, Jack)

I can, with minor limitations, keep up with a bunch of twenty-somethings.

My body doesn’t like extreme exertion for more than four days in a row. But with a couple days rest, I’m always ready to go again.

There are great numbers and variety of people working in reproductive health, rights, and justice and related fields. They do not all agree on language, priorities, methods, or politics. Each is unique, gifted, dedicated, and necessary to the movement. We need to value every voice and its special place in our work. We have much to learn from one another, and the work needs us all. Competing with our colleagues or judging their work as less critical is self-defeating.

A world placed in the hands of the 10 young women on this trip is a lucky world indeed. There is hope.

Eating gluten-free for six weeks on a cross-country trip is nearly impossible.

Every state is struggling with similar political attacks.

Lots of progressives feel isolated, often ostracized by religious forces. In every state activists are desperately seeking religious allies.

Never go anywhere without a Blackberry.

Friends make every challenge worthwhile.

Those are my random thoughts on Monday evening. Thanks again to my awesome staff for holding it all together and keeping this blog up to date: Adele, Saskia, Virginia, Kelli, Sarah, Autumn. I miss you and can’t wait to see you!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Map mishaps

Send some love to Becky! She biked even though she didn't feel well (48 miles).. and it was especially trying due to some direction issues.

Apparently the maps didn't match the actual routes a lot of the time, and the group had to keep stopping to re-design their trip. Sometimes they had to backtrack a bit, and the group had to really stick together. When they finally asked for some directions they ended up at a convenience store surrounded by police cops. At one of the block they saw all of the cars, and they found out that they had someone hiding in a building. At the opposite end of the block, there were more cars preventing people from entering a grocery store. People were unsure if the suspect was in the first building or in the grocery store, so they blocked off both! After they left the stand-off area, they got back onto a 2 lane road that was very curvy. At some point on the small road hey were going really fast down a big hill when they saw a big curve at the bottom. Shelby missed the curve and fell over in some gravel. Becky was right behind her and helped bandage up her scrapes-both legs and elbows :(

After a few more map mishaps the wanderlusters finally ended up within site of Baltimore, and of course it started to rain. Since they had a meeting tonight they had to keep riding. Luckily, one of the riders is from Baltimore and was able to give directions..but not before everyone got caught in a downpour with lightning and thunder. They rode through the city and crossed several large interstate ramps in the storm, all the while attracting quite a lot of attention from people in their cars and hiding under awnings. Someone yelled "look at the hardcore bikers" and then everyone in downtown Baltimore began applauding as the Wanderlusters tried to get out of the rain!

When they finally arrived at their spot for the evening, the van was already there and everyone was able to get out of the rain and get a little cleaner before their meeting!


ps. thanks to the Marylanders for their random acts of kindness. A man saw the riders sitting by the side of the road fixing a flat tire and gave them all a water bottle! They also met a man who commutes 11 miles on his bike to work each day and was really excited to see so many bikers in one place!

Washington DC



Planes arriving at the nat'l airport (above)



For those of you wondering about the van problem yesterday..it's all better now! Becky was in the van when it broke down and then rode in the rental van before getting back on her bike for the 26 miles leading from Mt. Vernon into DC. Some of the Wanderlusters were initially concerned about riding right through DC, but apparently traffic is so slow that it was an easy ride! The picture on the right --> is the view of DC from the Mt. Vernon trail. The trail runs from Mt. Vernon (George Washington's home and grounds) all the way into the city.

Here is Becky talking about the DC meetings which included a trip to Advocates for Youth (picture at left), an abortion clinic in DC and the RCRC reception! Becky said that Carlton said some really nice things about her and the group. Thanks national RCRC! Also, thanks especially to Francis Kissling (Catholics for Choice, retired) and Lisa Kohn for attending the RCRC reception!

Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #16 - Washington DC







Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Van problems

Quick update for all of our blog readers- the wanderlust van broke down sometime this afternoon! Becky took a picture of it being taken away, and they have already rented a van so they can continue. Don't forget to join them in DC for the next meeting!

Lake Anna





Becky is driving the van for part of the ride today, so we'll get an actual mileage count from her this evening! Here is a newest recording!

Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #15 - Lake Anna-Northern VA




Lake Anna

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Eastern Seaboard!


The wanderlusters have passed the 1000 mile mark as of today! We spoke with Becky this morning, and they are in Virginia and working their way through some really hilly areas. They will be in DC tomorrow, and the national office (RCRC) will be hosting a reception and meeting! Here are some of Becky's thoughts today:

"The area is very beautiful but hilly. There is something about Virginia, that even though we're on back roads, it feels very historic. The road signs, old homes, and historic sites all contribute to the feel of early America. We even crossed the *James River this morning! The river is very wide, but very shallow. It's as wide as the Mississippi, but you can see the bottom. It made me want to kayak really badly! Overall, the hills are making my knees hurt a little but I've found them a lot easier to take than just a few weeks ago. The scenery is so gorgeous that I also don't mind taking my time, even if it means being one of the slower riders. The roads have been shaded by tall trees, and it has also been a lot cooler recently, or at least feels that way. Over the past few weeks I have noticed that everything is relative! All of the riders standards have changed so much during the ride; now we're excited when a campsite has more than one shower, and if there are laundry machines when we stop! At the beginning of the trip I would have considered a 50 mile ride really hard, but now 50 is an easy day, 65 is average an average day, and a hard ride is 85+ miles. It's funny how our perceptions change!"

That's all for today! But check back for more information about the DC meeting, and listen so some of Becky's thoughts below:

Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #14 - Hilly areas galore







*For those of you who recognize the name but can't place it, the James River was used by the early colonists. Pocahontas, her father Powhatan and the Johns (Rolfe & Smith) all lived in or around the James River and the settlement known as Jamestown.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The ReCYCLEry and Lucy Wilson!



It's a small, small world!

Becky mentioned, in her last Gabcast, that she met the daughter of a St. Louis United Church of Christ minister, Rev. Ann Wilson, at the Chapel Hill meeting with Wanderlust. Here, Becky and Lucy both share their experiences in North Carolina:

Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #12 - Chapel Hill, NC



Missouri sure knows how to raise 'em well!

Chapel Hill, North Carolina


Hello! The Wanderlusters are more than half-way to New York City!

The next chance to meet with the Wanderlust team will be in Washington, DC. The reception will be hosted by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice at Acadiana Restaurant in Washington, DC from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 26, 2008. Appetizers and drinks will be served. RSVP to info@rcrc.org. Contact 202-628-7700 with questions.

Acadiana is located at:
901 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC
www.acadianarestaurant.com

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Biking north

Becky here! I'm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina this morning. We rode 55 miles of rolling hills yesterday and it was beautiful. Today we're taking a day off to regroup, restock supplies, and relax a little. It's hard to believe that we started this journey in New Orleans four weeks ago and that we'll soon be in NYC celebrating our time together. At the beginning it was difficult to imagine the completion of the trip--it all seemed like a faraway dream. But day by day what we have experienced is very real, very difficult, very fun, very rewarding.

The second half of the ride has (so far) been much more relaxed in spirit than the first half. As a group we've solidified how we work together and most tasks have become simple routine. The young women with whom I travel have treated me as a peer, while still occasionally seeking my advice about bikes and life. Spending 24/7 for 4 weeks with a group creates strong bonds and I am glad to be among such strong women. They inspire me every day.

I've taken some great photos this past week, but I've had trouble getting them to send to you. Because we are on the go during the days, taking back roads, and then usually in state parks in the evenings, cell phone reception is spotty at best. But most emails get through to me on my phone anyway and it's an incredible delight to read your kind words of encouragement. I am so fortunate to have such supportive friends!

Seeing the country by bicycle is very different from seeing it by car. Slow travel allows seeing beautiful sights and talking to people. I need to go now...more later!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Upcoming Meetings

We know that a lot of our readers are from outside of the St Louis area! If you are living somewhere along the Wanderlust route, or know someone who is, we hope you'll spread the word about the meetings. Here are the tentative stop dates/locations along the way..


Chapel Hill, NC/Carborro - June 21st
Washington, DC - June 26th
Baltimore, MD - June 27th
Philadelphia, PA - June 30th
Princeton, NJ - July 1st
NEW YORK CITY - July 2nd

Here is the information for the upcoming meeting:

THE WANDERLUST REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE STORY COLLECTIVE AND BIKE CARAVAN IS COMING TO TOWN!

This summer, fifteen women are traveling from New Orleans to New York City with the Wanderlust story collective and bicycle caravan. In solidarity with local activists and rooted in the belief that sharing stories is a powerful way to elevate awareness and create social change, we'll be pedaling from town to town to listen to your stories and document how you and others are working to expand access to reproductive health care, defend reproductive rights, and promote reproductive justice.

The goals of the trip are to document the inspirational, groundbreaking work happening across the country, expand the conversation about reproductive justice, and build horizontal networks to strengthen our collective movement for reproductive health, rights, and justice.

Join the Wanderlust bike riders for an evening of story sharing, delicious barbecua, and good conversation!

WHEN: Saturday June 21st from 6 - 8 PM

WHERE: 117 W. Poplar Ave Carrboro, NC

No parking on the street—park at Basnight and Sons at corner of W. Main and W. Poplar or University Methodist Church (if there's no event going on) or Carrboro Elementary School—on Shelton Street.

At the gathering, you'll be able to:
* Meet the Wanderlust Reproductive Justice Bike Caravan riders
* Share your experiences and talk about what reproductive justice means to you
* Hear from others in your area about what they're excited about and the projects
they're working on



Grapefull Sisters


Two nights ago the Wanderlusters stayed at The Grapefull Sisters vineyard! The hosts were the two sisters who started the vinyard about two years ago (hence the name). We have included the link to their site above, and we hope you'll take the time to learn more about this awesome women friendly enterprise. Becky says that they were really wonderful hosts and that she spent the night on the futon on a second floor open air porch! Apparently it was windy, but very fun. Here is a picture of the riders setting up camp on the the vineyard grounds!

Last night everyone stayed at Jones Lake state park (near Elizabethtown, NC) and today they are headed NW and inland. Becky has also noted that "Every place we stay we have conversations, every bike shop along the way has given us free stuff or discounted items. Every ice cream store along the way wants to give us free stuff. We are having a really good time!"

Here is the audio clip from today! The wanderlusters are in Whiteville, NC:



Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #11 - Whiteville, NC



Keep checking back for mileage updates and pictures! And don't forget to send some love..

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Charleston and beyond!

The Wanderlusters have just left Charleston, SC and we have lots of updates from the last few days.

In Charleston, the Wanderlusters had a meeting at a University. A woman and gender studies professor named Allison organized the event and invited people from the local community to participate. At the meeting, everyone broke into small groups and Becky's group included a woman and her family( originally from CA). Both of the young parents spoke about how concerned they are to be raising their son in the environment in Charleston, because they want him to grow up to respect women and their choices. The woman also said that she never felt the need to get involved in reproductive health issues before, because she didn't feel that her rights were threatened in CA. Since moving to Charleston, however, she noted that she has been surprised by the religious stranglehold on various aspects of women's health and really wants to become involved as an activist. Others in the small groups had equally successful conversations, and were able to speak to people from various walks in life about their interest in making connections with others and becoming more involved.

In Charleston, the Wanderlusters stayed in a hostel called NotSo Hostel and were joined by 3 new riders! The NotSo Hostel is a pretty famous Charleston hostel and they have a great website that talks about their room and space sharing philosophy (it opens dialogue!). After sleeping on the ground for the past few nights, I'm sure none of the Wanderlusters minded having to share a bathroom!

One of the new riders, Shelby Knox, has also been writing about the trip at her blog. For those of you unfamiliar with Shelby, she made her mark while still in her teens when she fought with her small Texas high school over their abstinence only curriculum. They chronicled the fight in a documentary called The Education of Shelby Knox, which we highly recommend!

Here is the most recent audio file from Becky! She passed the phone around to a few other riders, and you can hear messages from some of the more seasoned rider, Elizabeth, Vanessa and Elisa, as well as Shelby!

Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #10 - Meet some of Becky's friends




Monday, June 16, 2008

On the way to Charleston, SC

Hi everyone! Sorry for the brief blog hiatus, the staff has been really busy and we have been in and out of the office for the last few days. Becky has been sending some wonderful pictures and audio clips our way and we will do our best to get everything uploaded ASAP so that you can continue to follow her progress.

We have updated the mileage to reflect the last 3 days of biking, and the Wanderlusters are well on their way towards 800 miles!

Here is Becky talking about some rainy weather on their way into Charleston:

Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #9 - Rain and Sand biking!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Almost half-way


As of today the Wanderlusters are in Charleston, SC. Due to some mishaps (a fellow rider broke her arm, all the flat tires etc) the total mileage count is likely to end up around 1200-1400 miles instead of the anticipated 1,800. This means that Becky is now approximately halfway done with the ride! We are going to have to recalculate our pledges based upon this new information, but are really appreciate of everyone who has made a donation or a pledged thus far.
Lately, we (the staff) have been telling a lot of people about the Wanderlust ride and Becky's participation. The response has been unbelievable! Everyone has been so positive, and so impressed with her stamina and dedication. It has also been really interesting to see what happens when we tell someone what Becky is doing; invariably people want to share their own stories about their own bike rides, or experiences they've had meeting with people across the country. We're really excited for Becky to come back and share her stories, because we know that we have just been getting tiny snippets of information.
Please keep up the e-mails, texts, blog comments, and phone calls to Becky! She has been putting up with really hot weather, long days, and other hardships along the way. Please feel free to contact the office if you would like to extend well wishes or make a pledge!

Thanks for reading, and we look forward to keeping you updated as the riders begin the 2nd leg of their trip!


ps. thanks to rhonda for the picture!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

100+ Degree Weather


After a few days of playing 'catch up' using the van, the Wanderlusters are back on their bikes! Yesterday they rode 40 miles in 100+ degree weather.
They also had their next meeting in Augusta, where Becky took this picture.
<-- In the audio message below you can hear Becky talk about the trip so far, her appreciati
on for the UU's in Augusta and some other interesting trip notes. Becky also told us that (sadly!) flat tires are an almost daily occurance. Here is a picture of a bike being repaired on the side of the road-->













You can listen to Becky give a quick update on the ride here:
Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #8 - 100+ Degree Weather




Camping out




We're waiting to hear about the most recent meeting and mileage count, but for now here is a picture that Becky sent with her phone!





Camping at Hard Labor Creek in Social Circle GA

Friday, June 6, 2008

In Atlanta

Hi, Everyone!
It's really me this time. This is the first time I've touched my fingers to a computer in 2 weeks! The Wanderlust Riders are in Atlanta tonight, Friday, June 6, and will be staying here for the weekend. We are the guest of the Feminist Women's Health Center, an abortion facility. They have allowed us to take over a huge conference room, kitchen, baths, and laundry--a luxury compared to our nights in campgrounds. Tomorrow they're providing a pancake breakfast and a tour of their extensive facility. This clinic is being targeted by Operation Save America this summer.

We'll also be meeting with local activists tomorrow. We expect this to be one of our largest meetings.

On the last two days we've been on actual bike trails. It has felt far more relaxed than our stressful rides on state and county roads in the hills of Alabama, and much more enjoyable than trying to ride through construction zones. But everyday brings a new adventure. Small bike accidents, flat tires, barking dogs, getting lost, riders getting sick or injured, mechanical problems--there is always some challenge to overcome. Everyone finishes the daily ride exhausted, but usually proud and happy. Sometimes, though, the exhaustion makes us all a bit grouchy.

The riders are from all over the country--New York, Ohio, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Oregon, and California. The others range in age from 20 to 36, and then there's yours truly, trying my best to keep up with all that youthful energy as we pedal away the days.

I am so grateful to have such a fabulous MORCRC office staff that keeps interesting things happening while I'm away. I'm kind of sorry that I'm missing the most fun office time of the year, that time when we have new interns and allow our creativity to go wild. I'm in touch with Saskia or Adele almost every day. I miss them!

My bike is being good to me, but I think by the time I get to New York I'll be ready to throw away every piece of clothing that I brought. Nothing seems to ever get clean when washed out in cold water in a camp sink.

This is probably the toughest physical challenge I have ever undertaken. I'm pleased with the distance accomplished thus far and believe I'm finding new sources of strength.

Thanks for following along, and thanks so much to all who are sending me emails! I really am encouraged to keep going when I read your kind words.

Becky

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Second Meeting!

Yesterday the Wanderlusters rode 37 miles! They also had their second meeting. Here is Becky sharing her thoughts on the meeting, and on the ride so far:

Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #7 - 2nd Meeting in AL & thoughts about the meetings





Wednesday, June 4, 2008

On the way to the 2nd meeting

Yesterday the Wanderlusters rode 63 miles! Here is Becky describing the ride and some informal meetings they've had along the way:

Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #6 - On the way to our 2nd meeting

Monday, June 2, 2008

Voting rights museum, AL

Voting rights museum


National Voting Rights Museum & Institute



Near the foot of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the Museum and Institute offers America and the world the opportunity to learn the lessons from the past. Housed in this museum are exhibits that remind everyone of the struggle to secure the rights for all Americans to vote, regardless of race, education or wealth.

Selma, AL

Hello from Selma, AL!
Becky says:

"Today the Wanderlust riders have gone 39 miles. Tonight we are staying at the United Methodist Children's Home. The group has their own cabin, real beds, and the staff is making dinner for everyone! What a nice change from camping on the hard ground!

Here are some pictures of today's ride through Selma. We stopped at the Civil and Voting Rights Memorial. It's a beautiful park under the bridge where marchers were turned away with hoses while trying to see Gov. Wallace. Throughout the day, we went through white towns and black towns, however, everyone was so nice and people along the way stopped to talk, encourage, and offer help! It's beautiful and hard and exhausting! We went up two big hills and had then had a wonderful breeze going down.



Tonight we are going to clean up and try and visit the Civil Rights Museum here in Selma.
It's pretty amazing to see the country this way. You don't miss much on a bike."

Send some LOVE to Becky!

Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #5 - The long 68 mile ride

Saturday, May 31, 2008

On the way to Mobile


Hear all about the ride to Mobile, AL directly from Becky!

Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #4 - On the way to mobile

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Moving through Alabama

Yesterday the riders finished 43 miles and had their first meeting at the University of Southern Alabama, Mobile. Over the past two days they have been riding right along the Gulf of Mexico, and the water has been in sight almost the whole time!

In southern Alabama the riders were able to stop at a University and see the Katrina damage that is still so visible. In particular, everyone noticed a large white building that stood next to an old tree. The gutted building that faces the water is still closed and waiting for renovation, despite the passage of time. The tree nearby is really old, and is called the friendship tree by locals. The riders were able to stop in front of the tree and have a quiet moment of reflection.

Becky says about the first meeting that "Three women from a new NOW chapter attended the meeting. They spoke a lot about how feminism is a dirty word in Alabama and how isolated they felt. One of the NOW members is a professor at the local college, and yet they still feel it is difficult to talk about women's health-care and rights. Even in the most progressive churches abortion is a dirty word and you just don't talk about it. They seemed really happy to see this group of people, and to get a chance to visit with all of these other women. One woman said at the end that she was so happy just to see these things out loud, because usually she's just saying these things in her head. They liked the idea of being connected to people from across the country. They also fed us!"


Today, Becky is the van driver and is responsible for keeping all of the riders on track (helping with directions), scouting ahead etc. and going to the store and putting together lunch.
There have already been several flat tires, and the bikers had to contend with a really dangerous tunnel situation today. Some of the riders are dealing with ongoing tire issues because of a construction zone they traveled through on Tuesday. They spent most of the day riding through the zone, and riders picked up glass, nails and other things along the way. Luckily, everyone seems to be doing well despite these less than stellar conditions and the ride is progressing nicely!

Tonight the riders will be stopping at a fishing camp in Alabama, and are planning a 50 mile ride for tomorrow. They will take Saturday off, and then have a really long day on Sunday.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Alabama

Yesterday the Wanderlust riders finished 48 miles.

Total:133 miles

Today, Becky and the others are riding through Alabama. Becky says "The weather is beautiful today! We are in Alabama headed to Mobile for our first meeting. Everyone's muscles are sore, but we're riding well. Tonight, we are staying in a Unitarian Universalist Church."

We will post more information about the meeting in Alabama as soon as possible, so definitely stop in and meet the riders if you live in the area! We'll also hopefully have some pictures of the first gathering, and get a sense of what other gatherings might look like across the country!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New York Times Article


The New York Times Student Journalism Institute ran an article about the Wanderlust tour, and includes a lot of information about Becky! It even has a link to the biking page!

Here is the link for the article, or you can read the text version below:

Activists Biking Across 12 States for Reproductive Rights

By Amber R. Perry

Last year, Nora Dye took a solo bike journey from New York City to San Francisco.

“I wanted to meet other people who were advocating for reproductive health care and get a scope of what they were doing,” said Dye, the senior program coordinator of the Pro-Choice Public Education Project in New York City, which educates women on reproductive health issues. “There’s a lot of isolation within the reproductive justice movement and I wanted to create a network for us to talk about what is working, what isn’t and ways to better our efforts. We don’t share ideas as often as we should.”

Dye called the bike tour Wanderlust, an homage to the urge to travel. “The name implies the lust and passion one has. We’re passionate about reproductive health care,” she said.

This year, Dye and 19 other riders are traveling from New Orleans to New York City in an effort to create an open dialogue about women’s contraceptive freedom.

Dye interviewed applicants for the bike trip and created an itinerary.

“There’s a lot of media attention around New Orleans,” Dye said about why the tour started in the city. She said the post-Hurricane Katrina recovery effort doesn’t focus on women’s health. “We want to help raise awareness about women’s health.”

Kathleen Adams, a New Yorker and intern for the Pro-Choice Public Education Project, considers her major in architecture as an asset to the women’s rights movement.

“Housing for women is a right, especially in New Orleans,” she said.

The bike tour will not be easy. The women will face heat indexes in the high 80s to lower 90s, rain, fatigue and flat tires, among the other problems of traveling cross-country.

Riders will rotate duties, either following behind or driving ahead in vans to scout out the roads. They set up tents, provide food and water, administer first aid and allow other riders to rest. The vans carry extra bike parts, clothes, sunscreen and other supplies that riders might need.

For most of the stops, the riders will spend the night in the homes of friends and supporters. In New Orleans, the Wanderlust tour met at the home of Dye’s friend, Amy Marlow.

Marlow, a native of New York City, moved to New Orleans to help in the rebuilding effort.

Nora and I met last year on a Web site called couchsurfing.com,” Marlow said. “Couchsurfing.com is a Web site that connects travelers with couches. We also found out we had a mutual friend…it was fate.” Marlow said she hopes to join Wanderlust next year.

The 1,800-mile, 12-state tour is expected to last five weeks, and is being broken into 50-mile rides each day. Some days, the rides will end with town hall meetings at various churches, homes or schools.

The Rev. Becky Turner, executive director of the Missouri Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, sees the tour not only as an opportunity to exchange ideas, but to test her physical and mental skills.

“Religion is about justice of any kind,” Turner said. “I want women to be the recipient of justice, full control over their own bodies and the course of their lives. As a Christian, I look to Jesus in the ways he treated women.”

Like Turner, most of the riders prepared for the journey by jogging at least 30 miles, cycling and doing other exercises. Turner said she plans to keep an account of her journey through her blog, 2000miles4justice.org.

Paris Hatcher, who works with SPARK Reproductive Justice Now, a pro-choice organization in Atlanta, said that while she is not a serious rider, she wanted to represent women of color on the tour.

Wanderlust’s first major stop will be in Mobile, Ala., where the riders will host an event.

“We’re going to hear from them — advocates, educators, human rights groups — their opinions, politics, access to reproductive health. And make friends,” Turner said.

On Monday, at the start of the ride, after applying more sunscreen, passing out walkie-talkies, filling bottles with water and stretching, the Wanderlust riders stood in a circle.

“Plant your feet firmly on the ground and take a deep breath,” Dye said. “No matter what happens, you are always grounded with the earth, and she will be here to protect you.”

Sunday, May 25, 2008

And they're off..

The Wanderlust riders officially started their ride yesterday morning, May 26th. Over the weekend they toured more of New Orleans, including the desolated Lower 9th ward and clocked over 25 miles.


During the bike tour of the city they went into the neighborhood where Becky lived while in seminary and gave birth to 2 of her 3 children. She said the neighborhoods was very hit or miss, some houses were fine, other were totally destroyed. Much of NOLA was like that.. huge areas where there are no longer any houses, and you can see old foundations but little else.

She said that the Lower 9th ward is just desolate. They were covered in 18 feet of water, and it is now just a valley of sand, and old foundations. The gov’t came in and declared the houses uninhabitable and has begun to tear down what is left of the houses,now allowing anyone to rebuild. There is a really wonderful grassroots organization called Common Ground and they are making sure that whole blocks are not being decimated. They want to make sure that homes are being saved and that people who want to return to the area have a place to live and re-build.


As of Monday evening, Becky reports that:


We are in Bay St Louis, Mississippi staying at the Bay Episcopal Mission. We biked 60 miles today and I'm feeling great so far. The mission has provided us with a warm meal, Quanset huts with air conditioning (!), and bunk beds. It's nice to not have to camp out after our first day of biking!

On the ride today one person had a flat tire, and we are all a little sunburned despite our best efforts. Overall though, everyone is doing well and the ride went really smoothly. We started out in New Orleans and were able to see some of the Katrina devastation both in the lower 9th ward and along the route to Bay St. Louis. We also rode through a swampy area that had beautiful wildlife!

Along the way some firefighters provided us with ice and water, which was greatly appreciated considering the heat and humidity. Tomorrow we will be biking 50 miles, and I am excited to spend another day on the road with the phenomenal women on this trip!


-Becky



Hear Becky talk about the trip so far & the firefighters!Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #2 - outside of new orleans, some great firefighters!






Almost ready to leave NOLA!


This weekend Becky and the other Wanderlust participants have been busy getting to know one another and undergoing a bike ride orientation. Becky was in charge of a leadership seminar, and we know that she used a model that uses animal examples to explain strengths and weaknesses. Over the weekend they rode 25 miles and toured various parts of New Orleans.

Here is Becky and some of the Wanderlust riders on their tour of the city!

LISTEN TO BECKY SPEAK ABOUT GETTING READY HERE:
Gabcast! 2000 Miles for Justice! #0