Archive for the ‘Activism & Politics’ Category

Emerging Women: Sisterhood is Powerful

Monday, October 21st, 2013 by Madeleine

group1 Emerging Women: Sisterhood is Powerful I am still buzzing from my time in beautiful Boulder CO at last weekend’s stellar Emerging Women Live conference. There have already been a ton of great posts recapping talks and performances by the likes of Ani DiFrancoElizabeth GilbertAlanis Morissette and Brené Brown.

While I did glean incredible takeaways and inspiration from these well-known gals, I’d like to talk about some of the lesser-known women involved with the conference: some presenters I had never previously heard of, other attendees, and the event organizers.

I’ll start with someone close to home: one of my fantastic roommates, Emira Mears (left). You know the bliss of being with a longtime friend/colleague/co-conspirator who totally gets you, and yet you don’t get to see nearly often enough? That. To get to have numerous thoughtful conversations punctuated with spots of dancing and shopping over the period of a few days was pure pleasure, and epitomized for me the spirit of #EWLive13: Sisterhood.

Emira and I shared our room and camaraderie seamlessly with the brilliant and highly entertaining Melody Biringer (right), the serial entrepreneur, CRAVE and Urban Campfire founder and author of Craving Success. Our collective energy was an eclectic mix of entrepreneurial tips, connections and spicy anecdotes, with a side of powerful family & relationship sharing. This pic of us with our beloved shero Eve Ensler pretty much tells the story.

Moving on to a couple of the people who made it all possible in the first place, a deep bow to you, Chantal Pierrat. Emira and I have known Chantal since 2004 when we all attended SVI – Women at Hollyhock. We’ve all come a long way since then and were completely blown away by Chantal’s vision, presence and and flat-out fabulousness as she hosted us. A further deep bow is due to (I am making this title up) Operations Priestess Karna Liv Nau, whose meticulous attention to detail was matched only by the genuine love and care that she brought to attending to I can only imagine how many details and personalities.

Spending time with Tami Simon (founder of Sounds True, Chantal’s former employer, center) was another precious moment. She was also at the 2004 event with Chantal, and Emira and I had the benefit of receiving her deep, heartfelt and highly conscious thoughts on the upcoming 2014 Vancouver SVI – Women conference that we are planning.

group2 Emerging Women: Sisterhood is Powerful

Some other particularly meaningful connections for me included the searing soul searcher Sera Beak (check out her books The Red Book and Red, Hot & Holy: a Heretic’s Love Story), the perpetually radiant Amber Krzys (we are massive fans of her BodyHeart program), The Right Brain Business Plan author Jennifer Lee and the lovely Sara Avant Stover, whose extraordinary book the Way of the Happy Woman I am close to finishing reading and will share about at greater length very soon.

I myself was invited to lead a dinner conversation on the topic of “Scaling Your Business” with an incredible group of entrepreneurs. Our conversation rapidly evolved from sharing our respective goals to an extraordinarily powerful and deeply personal connection. I am talking BIG MAGIC.

My final virtual namaste goes to Melinda, a woman I met on the first afternoon at a “power circle”, where we connected with a small group prior to moving into the larger experience. Over dinner she shared with me and another member of the group that she had always had trouble embracing relationships with other women. As we ate, we learned her story, and in turn shared our own experiences in service of her quest to connect. It was another classic Sisterhood moment: women witnessing, supporting and lifting one another up: Emerging together.

One4Her: Eliminating Poverty with AFRIpads

Monday, October 7th, 2013 by Madeleine

During a coaching session I had once upon a time I was asked what my favourite hobby is. I said gardening, and the Coach then asked what I had observed during my time in the garden that might be applicable to the rest of my life. “That everything takes its own time”, I replied. I thought of this when we received this video of a recent One4Her distribution of 2,000 AFRIpads kits in Kibera, Kenya.

Going back through my email to discover just how long we have been talking to Judy Craig from Eliminate Poverty Now tells me that not only has our conversation been going on for close to four years, but moreover that in its course it has built a quality of deep and mutual respect. Without getting into all the ins and outs, bit by bit by bit we have exchanged ideas and contacts without really having a sense of what our goal was. But we kept going, and now we have some great news for you.

The other very notable long-term player and relationship in this story is AFRIpads, who go back to 2008. The consistent features? Trust, communication, and willingness to keep supporting, answering questions, making suggestions – even when we didn’t know what we were going to “get out of it” (the expression feels ludicrous given how much goodwill exists between all of us!).

In Judy’s words, this is what you get: “We had an intensely moving day. You get a sense of it from the girls’ faces. For me, the high point was when one of the girls asked whether there would be clotheslines to dry the pads on at secondary school. She clearly intended to go to secondary school – and we know that having the pads will help her achieve that goal. But just as clearly, she had no personal experience of what secondary school would be like. Probably, she’ll be the first child in her family – or in her neighborhood – to go to secondary school. And we are helping to make that happen. How lucky are we to be able to help someone transform their life that way?

Emerging Women Live!

Friday, September 6th, 2013 by Madeleine

ewlive Emerging Women Live!

It’s such a great buzz when a bunch of your favourite things converge. Here are 3 of mine: relationships, powerful women, and events.

Given this, it will come as no surprise that I kind of freaked out when I heard about Emerging Women Live (October 10-13, Boulder CO). Hearing the speaker lineup was kind of like a feminist version of celebrity fireworks: Ani DiFranco (boom!), Elizabeth Gilbert (boom!), Alanis Morissette (boom!), Sobonfu Some (boom!), Brené Brown (boom-boom!) and so on. Just hearing these names as a list made me wonder whether Hilary Clinton and Sheryl Sandberg might just show up for some girlfriend time: stunning!!!

Then I learned that the creative force behind it was none other than Chantal Pierrat, a longtime colleague who I met for the first time at SVI-Women at Hollyhock in 2004. (As it happens, I recently co-produced SVI-Women in Vancouver.) At the time, Chantal was the Sales & Marketing Director for Sounds True, working with one of my all-time entrepreneur sheros, Tami Simon.

It turns out that Chantal’s entrepreneurial spirit was lit as she listened to the stories of the circle of women business owners who gathered together to learn from and empower one another in our journeys. After close to decade with Sounds True, Chantal felt called to create her own venture, marrying her interest in personal growth and progressive entrepreneurship to create an event dedicated to what she calls “feminine leadership”.

All of this is to say: I can’t wait!! Lunapads is a Marketing Partner and will be providing beautiful gifts to all of the participants. If you’re there, please be sure to say hello. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Chantal, and the ripples that the event itself will create. Hope to see you in Boulder!

Meet WASH shero Rebecca Fishman

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 by Madeleine

washadvocates Meet WASH shero Rebecca Fishman

As part of our work with Pads4Girls, we get to meet and learn about other leaders and programs working to address education for girls in the developing world. We recently had the pleasure of connecting with Rebecca Fishman, the Operations & Special Projects Director for WASH Advocates, a nonpartisan and nonprofit initiative based in Washington, DC whose mission is to increase awareness of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) issues and solutions and to increase the amount and effectiveness of resources devoted to those solutions throughout the developing world.

This type of work is often a personal calling, and so we thought it would be interesting to learn more about Rebecca’s personal story and how she got involved with WASH and MHM (Menstrual Hygiene Management).

Tell us about your job…

I oversee our women and gender portfolio and focus on strengthening the capacity of national WASH advocacy efforts, networks, and female leadership. I look for creative ways to get people thinking and talking about why WASH is so important to women and girls by emphasizing linkages to economic empowerment, gender-based violence, health (including menstrual hygiene!), and education.

What inspired you to pursue a career in development work, and WASH in particular?


Telling the future at BALLE

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013 by Madeleine

ballephoto Telling the future at BALLE

Fran Korten, D’Artagnan Scorza and Adrienne Maree Brown

Suzanne and I are just back from attending the BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) conference in awesome Buffalo (seriously, it’s very cool) and are full of great ideas and inspiration about localism, entrepreneurship and community building.

As a microcosm example of the kinds of people and ideas that were zinging around the campus of Buffalo State College, I’m going to tell you the story (appropriately) of a workshop entitled “Changing the Story”. The idea that we can change our reality based on how we express it is hardly a new one, however I think that we can all agree that one can never be too creative when it comes to social change and imagining a better future.

The session was ably led by Fran Korten (left), ED of Yes! Magazine (who, coincidentally, we had met at the airport and shared a cab with on the way to the conference, making her our “first BALLE friend”), who vividly illustrated the principle of how story can shape outcome by citing the disparity between early Norsemen and Inuit’s ability to survive in the Arctic: the Norsemen’s racist belief that they were superior to the fish-eating Inuit “scraelings” (wretches) basically led them to starvation.

As activists, she invited us to share with other participants the story that we are changing. In my case, it was about shifting from seeing menstruation as unclean, painful and embarrassing to having a holistic view of our cycles and appreciating and honouring them for the amazing life-giving, Earth-connecting mysteries that they, and by extension our entire bodies, truly are – yay!

Fran’s next panelist was Gar Alperovitz of The Democracy Collaborative, a longtime political activist who shared the belief that the capitalist system as we know it is failing us, and that we are on the precipice of immense change, led by none other than us BALLE-goers – wow!

D’Artagnan Scorza (center), ED of Inglewood CA-based The Social Justice Learning Institute, shared a powerful video that laid waste to the idea that most young black men in that community are destined for lives of crime and incarceration. We watched as scores of strong, proud youth reclaimed a lifeless urban lanscape and built a flourishing community garden. Their new story is about food sustainability, community development, wealth and pride.

Although working on the other end of the country in Detroit MI, Adrienne Maree Brown’s (right) story of her work with the Detroit Food Justice Task Force is one of empowerment, healing and a better future brought about through urban agriculture with startling similarities to D’Artagnan’s. I loved how she is shifting the “Detroit is dead” story to “We don’t need saving, we need you to respect what we have created.” This shift is in turn bringing a new phase of distribution and education about nutrition and food security. Adrienne further leveraged her “inner sci fi geek” to challenge us to liberate our imaginations with respect to thinking about the future – how awesome could it be? Here’s her awesome post on the session, as well as Suzanne’s account of meeting Adrienne at SVI Hollyhock in 2008!

The dominant messages that I took away included that most communities are already resourced and need empowerment and leadership from within, rather than outside “experts” pointing the way, and that the crucial area that needs the most fearless navigating lies between the old and new stories.

Being the Change at BALLE 2013

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013 by Madeleine

speakers slide Being the Change at BALLE 2013

As I write, we are on our way to Buffalo New York to attend the BALLE  (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) conference for our first time. We’re excited to connect with like-minded (sustainable, creative, social impact focused) entrepreneurs and other leaders. This post serves as a brief introduction to who we are and what we’re about to our new BALLE colleagues: hello and welcome to the Lunaverse!

mads suz Being the Change at BALLE 2013

When Suzanne and I created Lunapads over ten years ago we chose to say yes to leading a new conversation about women’s bodies and fertility cycles. We said yes to inspired leadership. We said yes to building a business whose core values include sustainability, empowerment, body positivity, self acceptance & pride. (Here’s our TEDx presentation, called – surprise! – The Power of Yes)

Lunapads is a unique hybrid: a for-profit business that holds social impact at its core. We are a proud Founding Canadian Certified Benefit Corporation (or BCorp for short!), a prestigious status that identifies us as one of 600 companies that have met or exceeded a rigorous set of criteria to assess a business’ true social and environmental impact.


Pads4Oprah: BOOM!

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013 by Madeleine

pads4oprahheader Pads4Oprah: BOOM!

This post is about so many things: walking the talk, making dreams reality, friendship without borders, and the pure power of inspiration. Regular readers will recall Pads4Oprah, our plan to donate 400 AFRIpads kits to girls in South Africa in honour of Oprah’s visit to Vancouver in January.

At Lunapads we love our social media, and so we promptly created a #Pads4Oprah bandwagon, making a video appeal and enlisting support from friends and fans to spread the word in the hope that we might catch Oprah’s attention. It was so much fun, and best of all we got to actually hear her speak right here in Vancouver. So far, so awesome.

Oprah came and went and didn’t call, however this did little to dampen our spirits, especially with the prospect of a 400 kit distribution on the horizon. So here we are again with the next, arguably most impactful chapter of this story: what happened with those 400 kits.


Pads4Girls Jamaica LunaCircle May 24th!

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 by Madeleine

jamaicap4g Pads4Girls Jamaica LunaCircle May 24th!

Join us for an evening of celebration and storytelling with special guest Danielle Hoogenboom. Danielle has just returned from Jamaica where she deepened her relationship with Sister Jackie, an amazing woman running a home for marginalized children and teens. Through Lunapads, Danielle was connected with a local donor who financed the gifting of 20 Pads4Girls kits to girls in Sister Jackie’s community.

When: Friday May 24, 7pm (join us at 6:30 for snacks and socializing!)
Where: Lunapads International, 3433 Commercial Street Vancouver BC V5N 4E8 (map)
RSVP to: or on the Facebook event page

LunaCircles are events sponsored by Lunapads that create a safe space for conversation and exploration of how we connect with our fertility cycles.

In this special evening we will:

♦ Share about our personal journeys with our cycles
♦ Participate in a guided meditation
♦ Hear about Danielle’s journey and its connection to Lunapads and Pads4Girls, as well as honour the women and girls in both Canada and Jamaica and the roles they played in bringing this project to fruition
♦ Learn about natural menstrual product options, including Lunapads, Lunapanties and the DivaCup (special prices will be in effect during the event!)

Blessings, and hope to see you soon!

Red Sisters: Pads4Girls Jamaica

Friday, May 10th, 2013 by Guest

(Madeleine’s note) Right from the first moment that I started talking with Danielle Hoogenboom I knew that I had discovered a kindred spirit: a passionate woman unafraid to take risks to create change (she also teaches wicked yoga!). When she told me about her experiences in Jamaica and asked to bring Pads4Girls kits to a group of 20 marginalized girls that she knew there, I didn’t hesitate, and also received the almost-immediate blessing of a neighbour friend offering to finance it (Thank you Tasha!). Here is Danielle’s story of the trip:

I recently went to Jamaica to teach in Kingston and run my Yin Yoga retreat and training at a small family run space in the hills. I brought a handful of students, a talented sound healer and of course my Diva Cup (I never travel without it!) for two weeks of yin yoga study and rest (yes, we are going back next year, join us!)

I approached Lunapads about a donation from Pads4Girls, an amazing project that helps empower young woman thru planet sensitive cotton reusable products. I was really interested in bringing Lunapads to a group of girls and new mothers in Discovery Bay. Last year when I was in Jamaica I met Sister Jackie and her collective family at the fittingly self proclaimed ‘House of Love’ and wanted to support her dedication and her huge heart for the work she was been doing for nearly her whole life. This woman has an amazing story.

p4g jamaica Red Sisters: Pads4Girls Jamaica

Sister J is an incredible woman to be in the presence of. So much heart, so much love; you must be full of faith and spirit to do this work. This woman has 14 children with her on the regular, 2 of them wheelchair bound and 4 of them HIV positive. The House of Love is Jackie’s small home, well known safe haven for hungry kids, young moms, those orphaned to AIDS, kids whose parents were murdered, young girls raped by family members and then kicked out for being pregnant.


Projecting Change & Girl Rising

Thursday, April 11th, 2013 by Madeleine

staycurious Projecting Change & Girl Rising

Here in Vancouver, Lunapads is part of a vast web of changemaking people and organizations. Having the opportunity to creatively collaborate with them is one of our greatest pleasures, and we are thrilled to announce what just might be the best one yet!

Pads4Girls, our commitment to supporting the education (and therefore liberation) of girls, dates back to 2000. Over the years we have been thrilled to see the emergence of studies, groups and media that share our passion for creating a better future for girls. We have particularly anticipated the release of Girl Rising, a powerful and innovative new feature film that spotlights the stories of nine unforgettable girls born into unforgiving circumstances. Girl Rising is the centerpiece of 10×10, a global campaign to educate and empower girls.

Given that some of the fabulous people and organizations who we spoke of earlier include Katie Schaeffers, ED of the Projecting Change Film Festival and Sharon Davis, Leader of the Vancouver Chapter of Room to Read, it seemed like a natural thing to do to get together to support the Vancouver premiere of Girl Rising as part of PCFF’s programming. We are beyond thrilled that the film will be the centerpiece of the festival’s closing night screening & gala.

Girl Rising tells the story of girls like Sokha, an orphan who rises from a life in the garbage dump in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to become a star student and an accomplished dancer; Suma, who writes songs that help her endure forced servitude in Nepal and today crusades to free others; and Ruksana, an Indian “pavement-dweller” whose father sacrifices his own basic needs for his daughter’s dreams.

Each girl is paired with a renowned writer from her native country, and their stories are narrated by celebrated actresses including Cate Blanchett, Priyanka Chopra, Selena Gomez, Salma Hayek (Peru) and Meryl Streep.

As an added super bonus (and yet more fabulous Vancouver colleagues!), the evening will also feature a screening of Global Sorority, a film created by Loretta Cella of the Passion Foundation, a longtime Pads4Girls supporter and changemaker who has touched the lives of thousands of girls here in the lower mainland, as well as overseas with her powerful teaching, coaching and programming.

Hurry – tickets are going fast. See you there!