Finding Tr♀be

postcard-1I am beyond thrilled to announce the newest program under Mountain2Mountain, Tr♀be. Tr♀be is launching as a series of yoga/surf camps targeting middle school aged girls of different cultures and backgrounds.  The camps are about connecting young women together and empowering and inspiring young girls to find their voice and discuss social justice issues that affect them and their communities as a means of finding unique and sustainable solutions.

Tr♀be will be located in several countries with two phases of programming.  The initial camps launching in 2017 will be based out of Maui, Hawaii with the established local yoga and SUP/surf community, led by Sarah Callaham and focusing on local Hawaiian girls alongside local legends like native Hawaiian and pro surfer, Mariko Strickland Lum.  Additional camps in unique communities that tie back to our decade of work in Central Asia with girls will focus on Iran, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nicaragua, and Palestine and each camps will connect the girls with local women breaking barriers in their sport, adventure, and activism.  Mountain2Mountain sponsored Iran’s first surfer and snowboarder, Mona Seraji in the upcoming European FreeRide World Tour and she will be assisting with the camp in Iran next year.  In each case we would be establishing the initial camps with local girls as a means of connecting them into a community network of like-minded girls interested in social justice issues.

The second phase would involve camps that integrate the girls from various countries with each other for an exchange of culture and conversation that will plug them into global issues affecting women and girls.  These diverse girls will engage in a mutual social justice project together of their choosing and will meet with mentors to discuss application and logistics.



Why surf and yoga?  The idea is to engage within a new environment in a unique way through sports to bond and build confidence. Yoga and meditation to integrate mindfulness, self-reflection, and focus on creative energy.  Each camp will include guest filmmakers, photographers, activists, and adventurers from diverse backgrounds to inspire and spark new ways of thinking.

This new program aims to tap into the power of young women at a key time in their development and show them they are not alone, they have a tribe of other girls and adult mentors.  Discussions around gender violence, diversity, racism, and sexism will introduce the girls to ways to recognize and identify these issues when faced with them as individuals, while knowing they have a tribe of other girls to lean into if needed.

This is part of my pivot out of Afghanistan.  I am not turning my back on the Afghan girls and programs I have started, but I am not expanding them further due to the security and corruption issues that I have written about extensively both on this blog and on Mountain2Mountain’s.  I will continue to support the Afghan girls that are riding bikes and hope to return there and to find ways to support the girls.

This holiday season your donations to Mountain2Mountain will help build the foundation of Tr♀be and you can watch the first generation of surfer yogis flourish as young activists and strong voices in their communities.  Believe in the power of voice and in the power of girls.

Man Up?? No Thanks.

“Man Up” seems to be the catch phrase du jour within female campaigns over the past couple of months.  While I may be a little late to the party, with the elections finishing up at the polling stations tomorrow… that doesn’t prevent me from expressing my nausea at this recurring phrase.  Bandied about the airwaves, everyone from Diane Sawyer to Jon Stewart has covered this recurring theme.

Everyone’s favorite witch, Christine O’Donnell, sparked the catchphrase back in September telling her opponent, Mike Castle , “this is not a bake-off, get your man-pants on.”   Alaska’s grizzly mama herself, Sarah Palin, followed suit telling the men out there to repeatedly “Man Up” in various stump speeches, while Nevada’s Sharron Angle entered it into her live debate against a shocked Harry Reid, saying, “Man up, Harry Reid.”  Many other female candidates are following suit, endorsing not only the catch phrase, but the concept that men would be better politicians if they acted more like, well, men.

Colorado’s Jane Norton deployed the M-bomb against Ken Buck, accusing him of not being ‘man enough’ to run attack ads against her instead of allowing special interest groups to do it for him.  Further lowering the tone, Buck hit back with, “vote for me, I don’t wear high heels”.  Tit for tat spiraling the gender argument into the gutter.   Or a 3rd grade playground fight.

Guess what?  I don’t need to see Tarzan like chest pounding from any candidate, male or female to decide my vote.  I need substance.  Don’t think your male counterpart followed his moral compass, or stood up for what he said he believed in? Fine. Use your big words.  Don’t resort to childish rhetoric ala playground talking points.  If I wanted to hear a 5-year-old’s discourse, I’d listen to my kindergartener.

It sickens me enough to see politics played out on television like a badly written, poorly acted, daytime soap opera.  Don’t debase it further by immunizing the strength of solid women entering the political arena around the world with mama-grizzly one-offs. We are better than that.

Women’s empowerment does not stem from telling men they are flaccid, weak, individuals in order to appear tough enough to run against them.  Nor does it come from going for the cheap hit under the belt for audience applause.  My inner feminist would be appalled to see a man debate a female candidate’s performance based on the length of her skirt, and I’d feel exactly the same if ‘my team’ pitches the first lo-ball.

All of this ‘manning up’ flies in the face of several key campaigns erupting around the country focused on women as the changemakers.  The California-based Women’s Conference just wrapped up its annual conference, focusing on empowering women as the architects of change.  While innovative campaigns like The Girl Effect have sparked the global agenda by rethinking the role of girls as the solutions to third world poverty.

Not because they are ‘man enough’ to do the job.  But precisely because they are WOMEN,with their own unique attributes and qualities.  Women have fought to have a place in the debate, to represent themselves in government and in global policy and the world’s leaders are now listening.  We don’t need to prove we’re men to remain there.

UNIFEM’S 2010 Open Days on Women, Peace and Security celebrated the 10 year anniversary  of resolution 1325, with meetings in conflict areas designed to “enable direct dialogue between women’s peacebuilding organizations and women community leaders, and senior UN representation at the country level. The purpose was to seek women’s views on means of improving implementation of resolution 1325. These open and inclusive forums for women peacebuilders and activists also provided the opportunity to deepen local ownership of the resolution.”

I see these campaigns and conferences as major rethinks of the female role in society.  Girls looked upon as solutions to poverty, rather than the victims.  Women as part of the process of peace and security, rather than sitting on the sidelines waiting for it to come to them.  Not because we needed to alienate men from the table, but because we deserved to sit there with them.

Man Up?  No Thanks.  I can be a strong, empowered woman, without the trousers.

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