Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mari forwarded this Slate article by Jonathon Katz because, like most of you, she knows I have an affinity for raising chickens. I liked this line:

" Some things simply can't be accounted for by human perception. Often, the best part of living on a farm is the mystery."

It's akin to local story. Jenny the Donkey. Jenny was chasing off vermin on a farm when she escaped and has been at large for, oh, about 6 weeks now. Jenny's orneriness has been contributed to, well, being a donkey. When the local rags picked up the story it appears the mystery is beyond human perception. Jenny seems to be searching for her mate -- Isabella who is living in New Hampshire.

A lover's reunion is scheduled for the near future.

Friday, February 23, 2007

More on Choice and Nature vs. Nurture

The issue of men at MWF is a hot button. Invite men to the board? Invest in men and boys through grantmaking?

I know it is a hot button because most people I meet make sure I know their opinions, which inevitably fall into one of four camps.

1. Give women and girls the opportunity to define their fund "first" before we invite men to contribute. In a combined situation, women will defer to men, losing the empowerment that the institution stands for.

- or -

We need a level playing field first, so invest in women and girls primarily.

2. Live the equality and diverity value that we preach.

- or -

Let us not create a false environment where women and girls succeed on thier own; then expect them to succeed in a environment that they have no experience negotiating.

My personal opinion (and though being the ED, my personal opinion does not necessarily represent the opinion of the organization) is the latter. If we believe in feminism, we must believe that women have the natural ability to compete in an environment with men and that we must give them the ability to choose whether or not to do that. We can not make that decision for them.

That is not to say that we're not battling societal norms and cultural baggage along the way and that some nurturing is required.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Interesting piece by Slate about transparency in the philanthropic world.

Transparency and accountability are a big deal in the philanthropic/nonprofit world of late. Which drives me nuts because its just another buzz word for folks initiated by Sarbanes/Oxley. I love it when foundations and nonprofits figure out what it is they want to hold themselves accountable for and deliver on that promise... rather than talking about 'accountability' and 'transparency' in a vaccuum. So articles like these make me happy.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


This is a bit embarassing to admit for the Executive Director of a women's fund -- but lately, I've been having some revelations about what it means to be 'pro-choice' and realize that my definition has always been severely limited. I assumed that the term referred only to reproductive health -- and to that end, I always felt that the pro-choicers got the short end of the stick when it came to categorization. Pro-choicers are obviously in favor of life and believe that the ability to choose is part of a self-determined life. And I do believe that name positioning is important -- there is a huge difference between 'global warming' and 'climate change' -- the latter not paralyzing people in fear...

But choice goes far beyond reproductive health. Choice is about not making a women's decision for her and proactively giving her the opportunity to be self-determined, believing that when a woman makes decisions in her own self-interest, her community and family will be better off. And there are many applications of this. Most recently this came to light in the fundraising world -- when a board member and I were trying to decide how much to ask (financially) of a potential donor. She was more inclined to ask for a lower amount given that the donor gives so much to the movement in addition to financial dollars. I was more inclined to ask for more becauseI I believe that the if she can't give at that level, she'll tell me so and give me what she can. The concepts of choice offered a third rationale -- its not our job to predefine a giving bracket for her -- in doing so, we never give her the choice to be a major donor. We are telling her its 'out of grasp.'

The same could be applied to many areas -- the level of transparency we use with employees when talking about staff development, providing clear and understandable health information to let parents choose whether or not vaccine are right for their children, etc. etc.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Superman was Superman first. He had to be Clark Kent to pay the bills. Not vice versa.

Why then do we think of our secret identities as our alter egos rather than owning our secret identities as our core identity?

Having an alter ego is about owning a secret passion -- a passion so deep that we long for its actualization in our daily lives. My alter ego is Eli The Chef. In a more perfect world, I would have invested my creativity in a culinary institute. But we don't live in a more perfect world and so I came online as EliTheChef about the same time Mari and I started having deep debates about identity and I started struggling for a sense of place.
Seven months later, I no longer feel that EliTheChef is an alter ego. I'm living the dichotomy in my virtual world. Mari's right. In a virtual world, I can be Elithechef, Eli the Global Foodie, and Eli the Executive Director of the Maine Women's Fund. Not one is more core than the other.

Any one else going the route of virtual schitzophrenia?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

I'm officially a tri-blogger. It's funny how quickly it happened. I had agreed with Mari that managing multiple blogs was a scary/time consuming prospect and hadn't intended to be working on 3 blogs at once (as well as religiously following a host of others). But today the Maine Women's Fund launched E-quality Matters to bring our offline conversations about the future of the fund online. I've said it before and I will say it again. Maine is a big state. My hope is that a blog can help bring ideas, challenges, persepctives, and beliefs together in one place. This would be a huge coup for Fund that is hoping to become a 'statewide' fund.