International Women’s Day (March 8) has been celebrated around the world for just over 100 years. It is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. In some places like China, Russia, Vietnam and Bulgaria, International Women’s Day is a national holiday. FMI see www.internationalwomensday.com. In celebration of the day this year we will be sponsoring TWO events:
Our third Wise and Strong Women Speak program to be held on Friday, March 8. Each of the programs in this series features two women, who in a public conversation share their memories and wisdom. The featured speakers this time are Rachel Desgrosseilliers and Rita Dube who have both led distinguished lives in our community. In their conversation, they will focus their reflections on the power of heritage.
Since 2004, Rachel Desgrosseilliers has been Executive Director of Museum L-A. In that role Rachel is developing a new Museum of Work and Community for Lewiston-Auburn and surrounding communities. The museum tells the story of who we are as a people and challenges us to revisit the spirit of our amazing ancestors. Museum L-A has won several regional and national awards for programs, exhibits and published materials and prides itself in being a “Museum Without Walls.” Rachel also speaks nationally on a regular basis at the various Museum Associations in America.
Rita Dube recently retired as Executive Director of the Franco-American Heritage Center. As founder, she was instrumental in the development and restoration of the beautiful former St. Mary’s Church, transforming it into a state-of-the-art Performance Hall, a Heritage Museum, a Learning Center, and a multi-purpose Hall. It took 12 years to accomplish those results and 6 million dollars in fundraising. The venue has become a true community asset and a source of pride for all, especially the Franco-American community.
Marguerite Stapleton will again host the evening. She has noted that “There are so many wise and strong women in this community. It is time to celebrate this fact and invite them to give voice to their stories.” Marguerite has been involved in the community since 1977 and now offers resources in spirituality to individuals, groups and organizations through her consulting business, Wisdom Works. Marguerite was on the first Board of Directors for the women’s center. Anyone who knows her knows that she loves this community, its history and its people, and is passionate about women’s issues.
On Saturday evening, March 9, the women’s center this year is adding an additional event in honor of International Women’s Day. A gathering of women’s singing circles will offer a program called “Singing our Lives!” Featured groups are Women With Wings from Bangor, and the Women’s Chorus from Brunswick. Each group will share several songs and also teach some for the gathered participants to sing together. Other women’s singing circles or individual female singer-songwriters are invited to come offer a song or two. The singing will be interspersed with poetry by and about women.
For ages, singing together has been a powerful form of healing, empowerment and celebration for women. Women With Wings, which has met for two hours weekly since 1993, has as their goal to create “a safe, sacred space for exploring women’s spirituality through music.” In the pattern of our foremothers, through song they strive to enhance consciousness of Mother Earth, express love for the environment, and celebrate traditions form many cultures.(For more information see www.womenwitwings.org). You are invited to join in this remarkable evening of singing with others. No experience is needed, no reading of music required.
The Friday evening presentation is from 5-7:00 p.m. and is open to the public. It will take place at the Center for Wisdom’s Women, located between Pine and Ash Streets, at 97 Blake St. in the extension in the back of Healy Terrace. There is limited parking on site, please use the street or the Park St. garage. Look for the door next to a big sign with a sunflower on it!
The Saturday evening event will take place just up the street at Trinity Episcopal Church, 247 Bates St., Lewiston (corner of Spruce). Doors open at 6:00 with the singing beginning at 7:00. Those who wish to perform a song should arrive early o sign up for a spot in the line-up.
March is also designated as Women’s History Month. Our formal histories have tended to leave out the stories of women and the impact they have made in the world, so often accomplished quietly and behind the scenes. At a time of great need, there now seems to be a spirit moving in the world, bringing women to the forefront of change and it is exciting to watch. With these programs, we celebrate women in our own community who have made a difference. Come Friday and/or Saturday to be inspired by word and song, and let your own light shine!
Simple refreshments and beverages will be offered at both venues. There is no charge for either event, though donations are welcomed to support The Center for Wisdom’s Women. For more information contact the Executive Director, Klara Tammany at 513-3922.