Pussy Grabs Back Protests – NYC and Denver



It’s time we said ‘Enough’.  Rape culture, gender violence, and sexual assault and harassment are taking over the headlines, but instead of inciting action, its being dismissed as a political move.  Victims are coming forward only to be shamed or shut down as per usual.  On Twitter #WhyWomenDontReport has been a powerful hashtag illustrating the very heart of rape culture and why we as victims often don’t come forward.

My recent post about rape culture, got so much trolling that I turned the trolling into a social experiment and turned the trolling commentary into proof of the rape culture they were denying.  Mostly I just tried to find a silver lining out of so much hate and misogyny.  Throughout the responses I see from women on social media sharing stories and speaking out, many openly adding their voice to the conversation for the first time, I see old wounds being ripped open and a bizarre collective PTSD emerging. It feels less about the old wounds than about the new hate.

Enter the Pussy Grabs Back Protests.  It’s time to raise our voices and collectively push back against the misogyny, racism, and hate talk that insists that there is no rape culture, that we are too sensitive, that we need to shut the hell up, that we are lying.  It’s time to reclaim Pussy as a derogatory word meaning coward, or as a way to dehumanize us down to a body part. It’s time to fight back with our voices and our spirits.

I’ve created two protests, both scheduled before the election.  It’s not about politics, although politics is what has brought this conversation to the streets in protest, it’s about voicing our stories and showing that rape culture exists and we will not accept it any longer.  It’s about seeing survivors in the thousands opening the door and welcoming the nation in to see what we, as women, have been putting up with for far too long.  Activists like Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan the feminist movement of the 1970’s should have kicked this in the balls a long time ago but apparently we have not come as far as we thought since the suffragette movement ensured us the right to vote almost a century ago.  The open racism and misogyny that is fueling this election cycle, but is seemingly brushed aside is staggering in its roots of ignorance and hate.  Calls from Trump supporters to roll back women’s rights to vote, to roll back civil rights?  The only option is fight the ignorance with protest and to combat the apathy of those unaffected with our voice.

My own small, yet diverse community of men and women in New York City are coming together to protest on Saturday, October 29th at 10am. We want you to join us.  The location details will be announced on social media  through Twitter at @sgalpin Instagram at @sgalpin74 and my public Facebook page next week.  The fabulous women at WorldMuse and CTZNWELL are supporting these protests with outreach and support and for that we are grateful to them.

We need your help mobilizing the NYC community to join us; college students, artists and musicians, the yoga community, women’s groups, anti-violence and anti-human trafficking groups, activists, writers, journalists, business leaders, and media to join the protest and be aware of it.  Please reach out to your community, share this post, invite your friends, and get involved.  If you can help with signs, media, social media outreach, or anything else please email me through my website at www.shannongalpin.com

The second protest is in Denver, Colorado on Wednesday, October 26th the state which I call home.  We were approved for a permit today so that we can protest on the steps of the state capitol building.  Please join us at 8am on the west steps of the capitol.  Same thing as NYC, rallying your community, showing up to the protest, encouraging others to join you is our biggest need.

Get creative, make signs or wear tshirts in protest that focus on the issue not the political candidates.  Pussy Grabs Back, Combat Apathy, Enough, Feminist as Fuck, Rape Culture Exists, VAG (very articulate girls), Vote Your Vagina are a few of my personal favorites.  Let’s make this protest the first step in a broader discussion and specific actions to combat rape culture and gender violence beyond Nov. 8th.  Our work is just beginning, no matter who wins this election, the work we have ahead of us to combat gender violence and rape culture is just beginning.





Innovative Minds – Colorado College


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Join us for a interactive presentation, discussion, and book signing to create awareness and raise funds for the Afghan Cycling Program and Mountain2Mountain.

December 2nd, 2015|Categories: |Tags: , |0 Comments

Mountainfilm Reunions

Telluride Mountainfilm kicks off tonight with an upcoming four days of Afghan centric festival programming.  There are so many friends, colleagues, and acquaintances converging in one place that I can hardly believe it.  Rarely in the work I do, are so many that I admire, love, and respect brought together in a place outside of Afghanistan itself.  The interesting thing to me was how deep the threads from previous Mountainfilm’s weave through many who will be part of this festival. Many of the people I have now worked with, and traveled with to Afghanistan were women I met at previous Mountainfilm festivals.

Really what is special  are the memories attached to so many of the people who are part of the festival this year. Filmmaker and friend, Sarah Menzies  and I met in 2011 Mountainfilm, she made a film about me, and two years later we were neck deep working on a film project, Afghan Cycles.  In 2013 we interviewed one of this year’s symposium speakers, Afghan Parliamentarian, Fawzi Koofi in 2013 as part of the Afghan Cycles production.  She is one of many Afghan women working in the political system that I’ve been honored to meet and often work with who raise their voice every day despite the death threats and corruption.


Photographer James Robertson will have a art show as part of the Gallery Walk – he is one of the few people I know besides myself that has skied with the Afghan girls in Bamiyan.  His photography is stunning and he’s a recent convert to fat biking – rocking our Mountain2Mountain Afghan inspired jersey in the snow!  This will be the first time we’ve met in person after years of correspondence.


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The Reading Frenzy on Sunday includes friends like James Edward Mills, who will be there with his first book, The Adventure Gap.  James is actually was the first person to ever interview me way back in 2007 when I was first starting to work in Afghanistan.

Then there is Anna Brones.  We met in 2010 Mountainfilm, and she has become a dear friend and partner in crime.  On the promise of great food blog material and adventure, she traveled to Afghanistan with me to assist me on Streets of Afghanistan street art installations.  She is also a producer on Afghan Cycles, and separate from our work together she is author of Fika and the Culinary Cyclist which means that I have been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of recipe testings!  Of course, we made sure to have Fika in Kabul.

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As for the actual films – obviously the film nearest and dearest to my heart is that of Afghan Cycles.  Sarah Menzies will be presenting a behind the scenes talk about production and storytelling based on her experience filming in Afghanistan with Afghan Cycles, which is in post production as we work to complete for a 2016 premiere.  Our first production trip together was in in the spring of 2013 and Jenny Nichols joined the team soon after and joined Sarah on a second trip last fall. Sarah will also be speaking alongside Afghan photographer, Afghan photographer Farzana Wahidy, and Mo Scarpelli of the film Frame by Frame.  The threads connect further as we worked with Farzana on a dusty day on the Afghan highway north of Kabul, and I introduced Farzana to the crew of Frame by Frame as a strong female subject for a film about Afghan photographers.




I was part of the initial production trip of Frame by Frame which will be screening this year.  I had met both Sarah Menzies and Alexandria Bombach at Mountainfilm in 2011 when I was a speaker and the Streets of Afghanistan exhibition was the backdrop to the symposium.  Sarah and Alexandria subsequently made a film about me and my work, MoveShake and Alexandria had asked if there was ever an opportunity to shoot in Afghanistan that she would like to be considered.  I brought up the idea of a film about the power of owning your own story and the Afghan photographers I knew in Afghanistan.  Anna Brones soon joined the team as did Mo Scarpelli, and I brought the team there in the fall of 2012 to coincide with the premiere of the Streets of Afghanistan exhibitions in Afghanistan which features two of the photographers that are now subjects in the film. My  fixer Najibullah worked with them on their subsequent trips as did my friend, Mountain2Mountain photographer, and Afghan road trip partner, Travis Beard, who was a mentor to the AINA Photo Agency and these photographers while he lived in Kabul for over eight years.

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More exciting is that the four Afghan photographers will be at Mountainfilm as guests. Farzana and her husband Massoud will be speaking at the symposium and in break out sessions. Najibullah Musafer and Wakil Kohsar will be in attendance, and both were part of the Streets of Afghanistan project after I met them and several other AINA Photo photographers in Kabul in 2008.  That is one of my favorite parts of Mountainfilm each year when subjects are part of the festival, not just the storytellers. Their history though has a prior thread through Mountainfilm as their first mentor, photographer Beth Wald, has had two exhibitions at Mountainfilm previously.  She was the woman that first told me about AINA Photo where these photographers honed their skills and banded together as an Afghan photo agency.


Outside of Afghan-centric films there are going to be old friends like Dominic Gill of Encompass Films presenting their short film set in Brazil Above the Alley Beneath the Sky.  Tenuous Afghan connection… Dominic and his partner in crime, Nadia, reading my Streets of Afghanistan book at Denver airport!  You may know Dominic best from his Take a Seat adventures!

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Brendan Leonard and Forrest Woodward will be presenting their film, Frank and the Tower.  I have had the joy of sharing many cups of coffee with Brendan in various parts of Colorado, sharing stories, and I remember hearing about Frank.  Simply put, I cannot wait to see this man in action and get the whole scope of the story on the big screen.  This ironically does have another tenuous Afghan connection as Brendan, aka, Semi_Rad is also a huge supporter of Mountain2Mountain’s work in Afghanistan -100% of proceeds from his tshirt sales on his website benefit my work with women and girls and its one more tug at the heartstrings to see his project at Mountainfilm!  Long story short, this is a man that Gives a Shit.

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There are even connections made at Mountainfilm like with Ted Callahan, who I met at my first Mountainfilm in 2010.  He works in the Wakhan and other remote areas of Afghanistan, and we reconnected randomly on an airplane out of Kabul months later.  We spoke briefly just a month ago, which shows the connections made at Mountainfilm run deep.  NY Times journalist, Matt Rosenberg and I also met randomly on the flight out of Kabul in 2012 and thanks to our mutual role as parents, a rarity in the ex-pat world in Afghanistan, we struck up a conversation that has continued on subsequent visits.

So many more connections I’m probably missing, but I know that people I greatly admire like writer, Dexter Filkins will be at the Reading Frenzy, as will Sebastian Junger and all three of his films will be screened.  Then there’s writers like Cheryl Strayed who speak to the importance of owning your own story, all of it, good bad and the ugly.  Books, film, speakers, and the incredible interactions colliding on the streets and cafes of Telluride, its what Mountainfilm does best.  I myself will be at the Reading Frenzy with my memoir Mountain to Mountain, and the Streets of Afghanistan photography book.

Truth be told, I’d love to see young Afghan and Afghan-American voices of the next generation at the festival because they are the ones that are radically changing the landscape in Afghanistan, outside of the confines of traditional Afghan culture.  Afghan-American fashion designer KingNoorLA, Afghan graffiti artists like Shamsia and Kabir, Afghan rock bands like Kabul Dreams and District Unknown, and Afghan-American singer songwriter, Fereshta who is a spiritual goddess with the soul of a rocker. Afghan-American musician and filmmaker Ariana Delwari who had the film We Came Home and launched an powerful “Be Gone Taliban” social campaign. Afghan activists like Noorjahan Akbar who got young women to march in the streets to protest sexual harassment in Kabul, and set up the first women’s internet cafe.  These young men and women, and so many more like them, are the next generation of change makers and signal a change from the norm… I wish that there had been space to discuss the future though this lens as the time has come to let their voices be heard.



Durango, Maria’s Bookstore

Maria’s Bookshop hosts Shannon Galpin for a presentation, Q&A, and book signing event.

November 13th, 2014|Categories: |Tags: , |0 Comments

The Making of Alchemy Bike #001


Emblazoned on my bike as a surprise when I picked it up – the day before I flew to Afghanistan.  Bike #001 was not just a thing of beauty, it had soul.

The incredible team at Alchemy Bicycles blew me away from the moment I met them.  Thanks to a surprise meeting arranged by Skratch Labs founder, Dr. Allen Lim, I found myself at a warehouse in south Denver.  Alchemy’s new Colorado headquarters.  They told me that they believed in the work that I was doing in Afghanistan and wanted to support me with a new bike and be part of the new program I was launching in the US – Strength in Numbers.   It was immediately aware that this was a company with soul.  A company that ‘gives a shit’.

From small beginnings…

…big things can grow.

Such is the nature of Mountain to Mountain’s creation, its outreach, and the projects we support.

Two years ago the seed was planted to ‘be the change’. Like many across the world it was a simple act that spurred me to action. In my case, I read a book, “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson. Inspired by the story of what one man can do to promote peace and educate children, with nothing more than passion and the willingness to make mistakes, I came to a realization. “What are you waiting for?”

A traveler and ex-pat for over ten years, I considered myself a global citizen. If that was truly the case, what was I doing to be part of the global community? How was I helping my global neighbor? The answer depressed me. And kick-started me in action.

Truth be told, I’m a doer. Some people may call it impulsive. Reckless. Crazy. Others close to me have kinder labels. I had no prior experience in philanthropy, fundraising, little public speaking experience, and no management background. Yet overnight, I decided to create a non profit. I’d learn ‘on the job’.

So, with the help and support of a good friend, Mountain to Mountain was born. The decision was made to host an author event with the man that had inspired my call to action and raise money for his foundation, Central Asia Institute. Our mountain community here in Colorado would come together to fund a school in the remote mountains of Central Asia – thereby connecting our mountain communities together through a common thread of education for all.

Our mountain communities are unique. We are small knit communities that share the common love of the outdoors, sports, and travel. We endure long winters, yet have thriving art cultures. Tapping into those values was what could make Mountain to Mountain unique in its fundraising and outreach. I didn’t want to just raise money, I wanted donors and supporters to understand WHY it was so important to get involved with our partners and our projects.

And thus, through the winter season of 2006/7, the author event branched out into a much larger fundraiser and booksigning alongside an inaugural charity trail running event, Race for the Mountains. Now I was adding the additional branch of ‘Race Director’ to my rapidly growing tree.

In just seven short months, we raised over $100,000 through our grassroots outreach. Enough to support the building of two schools in Pakistan with Central Asia Institute. Two communities that will benefit from their girls and boys being educated in a region with few schools, teachers, or opportunity. Two communities that recognized the value of educating their children and devoted their time, sweat, and materials to provide the manpower to make it happen.

and so we continue to grow….

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