by Kelly Hansen
In an election of sensationalism, here’s a matter-of-fact piece about a local candidate I admire: Secretary of State candidate Brad Avakian.
Brad Avakian in our current Bureau of Labor Commissioner, former state legislator, Civil Rights Lawyer, and brave human running for Secretary of State. Here’s why I’m into him, and why he can be the local public servant for which you are so excited to vote.
Brad doesn’t think money and influence puts you above the law. For example, as Labor Commissioner, he enforced labor laws, such as laws that protect worker’s access to breaks and fair wages, against big companies in Oregon, including Daimler and Google.
This record is in line with his platform of good governance: holding corporations accountable through audits, rewarding businesses best practices, and improving government transparency and access to information. He’s brave enough to forego big campaign donors to do the right thing.
(A quick refresher: Sweet Cakes Bakery refused to sell a wedding cake to a lesbian couple citing the owners religious beliefs against same-sex marriage. The couple filed a complaint to Bureau of Labor and Industries. The business posted the personal information of the lesbian couple online complaining that they were stifling their religious freedom. The family/lesbian couple became the target of a hate-filled campaign against gay people. )
In a charged atmosphere, Brad calmly did his job of enforcing Oregon Law. I think I’m with most Oregonians who feel that a business shouldn't get a free pass to break the law because they don’t approve of your sex, race, or sexual orientation.
Why This Position Matters
Here’s the clincher: Secretary of State is the person who controls our state elections. Having a person in that office with the nerve to say that being rich doesn’t make you above the law is the person we want in charge. Especially when his opponent, Dennis Richardson, a state senator from Southern Oregon, has supported voter ID legislation characterized by the American Civil Liberties Union as voter suppression.
Bernie said we need to start engaging at the local level. I wrote this blog and donated to Brad Avakian’s campaign here. You can share this blog, donate, tell your friends about Brad, and of course, vote for him when your Oregon ballot arrives. You’ll be voting for someone principled, with integrity, who has a history of acting for people in Oregon over unjust interests.
Let’s take to the polls!
I love films. And I especially love documentaries. Fiction, which I also love, is reflective of the true stories we tell. Documentary filmmaking seeks out that which lies in the shadows and brings it to light. The untold stories, the hidden, the secrets, the mysterious, the dismissed – those stories that sit right in front of our faces, pass by us daily, but are deemed lesser than by a comfort-seeking majority.
Once brought of out of the shadows the stories that documentaries tell weave into fictional narratives and serve the important role of seeping into and broadening out the base of what stories a society tells overall. These stories make more people’s lives – their triumphs and struggles — visible, understood, and work to influence policy, job markets, community action, expand exposure and interest in cultural fiction from the perspective of minority groups, and enriches the core of our humanity.
There was a palpable anticipatory vibe surfing through the sold out crowd before the films started. A complex mix of being excited for these young women to show their films at the beautiful Hollywood Theater, and, it’s 2016 and women still seem to have to be overly grateful for people to listen to their stories. We yearn for a day when a girl’s narrative is given equal importance to that of boys, is automatically considered, as, if not more, worthwhile. And we sit there knowing that Produced By Her, and other girls and women doing similar projects, are the beginning of making that happen. The beginning of a time women like JK (Joanne) Rowling can, without thought, use her full name and know that she does not have to hide behind initials else have her story immediately dismissed by half the population.
It was enthralling to see the subject matter picked for the films. The stories of young black women’s experiences of living in our predominantly white Portland (We are Black Women), the disturbing rates (highest in the country) of young girls being stalked and lured into sex trafficking in Portland (Traffick), a celebration of women street artists, showcasing their commissioned work at the Vintage hotel (Empowered Streets), and the importance of safe spaces for the LGBTQ community (A Space for Us).
After receiving a crash course in all things filmmaking from filmmakers Kerri Lynne Thorp and Kalimah Abioto, the girls did a killer job of interviewing their subjects to get to the core of their subject matter, creating dynamically visual B-roll, and incorporating personal narratives when it suited the story. Wrapping all the elements together with skillful editing making for solid and impacting narratives.
After the four documentary shorts, a captivating and inspiring documentary on the Produced By Her process, directed by Kerri Lynne Thorp and Rachel Bracker and produced by Vox Siren, was screened. In the documentary, one of the young filmmakers said something along of the lines of, “At school I get complimented on my hair and my clothes, but here [in the Produced By Her program] I get complimented on my ideas and my creativity.” This was followed by yelps and excited applause. We are excited for a young women to see and understand that they have a different, more expansive, true story to tell themselves. We are excited to hear this as women because we can never hear this enough. This one shift in perspective will ripple out into every future action these young women make: career choices and advancement, relationship choices, the way purchases are made, what drives an economy. And I am excited to see millions of self-realized story epiphanies ripple out into the future and change the way girls and woman walk through the world, their voices prominent, their bodies valued as their own, and their minds respected whatever space they are in or table they are seated around.
It is absolutely a fiction that men’s stories are for everyone, and women’s stories are only for women, are secondary. They are not and they never were. Women literally give birth to all stories. That is the truth Project Her is part of exposing. Vox Siren knows this, embodies this, and lives this. No one can tell women anything different. Not anymore. The young women of Produced By Her, and the young women and men who viewed their films, all know this. The future is bright.
For information on screenings, contact email@example.com
“I think it is important to give back to your community and to support the youth around us because they are tomorrow's leaders. Showing a Latina presence at community events also helps to represent the span of what all brown women are capable of. Helping to have a small part in a much bigger picture encapsulates what I feel my purpose is in life.”- Danielle Robles
I remember meeting Danielle Robles two years ago at a meeting I was leading for the Take Back the Streets event. Danielle offered to cook for the 300+ attendees at the time. The day of the event she showed up, she scrubbed tables, moved furniture, sweated and seriously organized everything about the food serving area. I remember she looked at me, as I was busy attending to other details and said, “I got this, go do other things.” As a person who organizes events, I wanted to believe her but the anxiety lead me back to check on her 15 minutes later. Danielle was directing folks, organizing everyone’s roles and smiling while doing it. She looked at me and said, “I told you I got this.” I never had to go back. We feed over 300 people that day.
Danielle has continued to come through at every event that Vox Siren has produced. EVERY EVENT! This past Sunday, she managed the tabling for Produced By Her. We had 400 people show up, with over 400 people in attendance, the table never stopped bustling. Danielle never stressed.
“I love Vox Siren's impact on the community the city and the joy it brings to greet someone with love, compassion and excellence. I love giving back to something, as I have overcame struggles as well as giving to the city that I grew up in. It is a very small part of the puzzle; however it is what I am able to contribute.” -says Danielle.
Danielle is the type of person we all need on our team as we pursue important work. She is calm, resilient, resourceful and passionate. Vox Siren extends a bow to you Danielle! Thank you for your support.
According to a new report from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Oregon's homeless population rose by nearly nine percent over the last year. It is urgent that we collectively create solutions that address the root causes creating homelessness. Across the region, social service agencies are in need of a combination of educational resources and practical tools that support a collective and consistent approach to prevention and intervention. Agencies across our region struggle to keep staff educated on the most effective and authentic ways to work with the homeless population. There are specific trainings that all direct service providers need in order to positively understand and impact clients. It can be extremely challenging for social service providers to schedule, resource and send staff to the training they need to be effective in their jobs. Training can also be cost prohibitive. And when free training is offered, it is very difficult to schedule staff to attend these in a timely manner, or at all.
Vox Siren has built a partnership with New Avenues for Youth to offer a creative solution. For the next two months Vox Siren will be conducting an internal evaluation with their staff to analyze the highest priorities for an on-demand digital training. New Avenues for Youth has also invited selected external partners to also provide critical feedback in the evaluation. They realize that collective educational resources is vital to the continuum of support for our homeless populations. Once we have analyzed the data we will begin creating a digital module that will be made available at a low cost to providers across the city and nation.
This on-demand resource that has the potential to support thousands of people in the social service industry. We are excited to bring this resource to the city soon!
If you are interested in learning more about creating a digital library for your organizational training needs, contact Zoe Piliafas at firstname.lastname@example.org
MARGARET E JACOBSEN
Our stories are important. Our stories matter. Produced by Her just ended its 5-week program, where the purpose was to teach and encourage girls to tell their stories. To tell the stories of other girls and women. Media is dominated by males, and the stories of women are so often left out, or if included, more often than not, depict women as a sexual character/love interest. Produced by Her is a program that wants to change the current climate. It wants to disrupt the way things are, starting with girls, and giving them opportunities to learn about film, and how to get stories shown.
Photos by Intisar Abioto
Produced by Her was a program created by Vox Siren, a creative change agency, with the help and support of partners like METRO, Travel Portland, Regional Arts and Culture Council, Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Cycle Oregon, Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest, Upswell, and NW Documentary. Over the last month, 11 girls, between the ages of 12-17, worked alongside women who worked in media, to create their own documentaries. Through a large brainstorming session, each group came up with their own ideas, what stories about women they felt were underrepresented. From there, they conducted interviews with authorities on the topics they had chosen. They learned to be writers, producers, directors, editors, audio engineers and cinematographers.
I had the opportunity of leading a writing/blogging workshop. While I knew why this program was important, why it mattered, and why it was so powerful, didn’t hit me until I was standing in a room, watching these girls sit with headphones on, editing their films. When I asked each group what they were working on, they described their films, and their reasoning for choosing to focus on that particular subject. I had come with a very specific idea of what I wanted to teach in my workshop, but while listening to them tell me about their experiences filming and meeting so many different people throughout Portland, I scratched what I wanted to talk about. Instead we talked about why THEIR stories mattered. Mattered as much as the ones they were telling. Too often in media we see only a few of our stories told. And usually the journey to get to a platform wide enough to spread the story, was a long one. As females, our opportunities, especially in media, are limited and far between. As of right now, there is a 5 to 1 ratio of men to women, working in the film industry. When it comes to cinematographers, that is made up of 98% males, while only 2% are women. When it comes to writers it’s 85% men, and 15% women. The stats continue like this in most roles, like producers, and editors, and directors.
BUT! When a woman is writing/directing a film, we see more female characters. We don’t see them the same way that we often do in a film directed by a man, but we see them as more complex. With more layers. We see them as ourselves. Our stories get told when a woman is apart of the creating. Which is why when I was first introduced to Produced by Her, all I could say was “YES!” I was especially thrilled that this was focused on youth, on young girls. It’s important for them to understand that not only should they tell their stories, but they are capable of creating ways to tell them. Observing these girls sit with their adult mentors, and not only ask questions, but suggest brilliant ideas of how to cut something, or point out why a scene mattered, was amazing to witness. We need to create more spaces like this for girls. More ways to help them express who they are, and help others share narratives that have made them who they are.
Photos by Rachel Bracker & Kerri Lynne Thorp
Portland is a city that is known for its creativity, its known for supporting art. I want our city to continue to be this, but not only for adults. I want this to be a city that supports girls creating and building. The last 5 weeks have been life changing for some of these girls, at least that’s what they told me when I asked about what their thoughts were about the program. But summer will come to a close, and school will start back up. We need programs like this to continue, to support our girls, but most importantly, to support their stories. Because they’ve only just begun.
Vox Siren is hosting a screening of the films from our Produced By Her summer film program. The girls films are telling important stories about the experiences of women in our community. Our event is being held at the Hollywood Theater, August 28th at 5pm.
We are calling for poem submissions on:
If your poem is selected you will receive a $30 honorarium from Vox Siren. Your poem will be featured in our event brochure, social media and read at the event.
What file types can I submit?
Special OpEd by Rachel Benner
Vox Siren, Social Media Engagement Intern
Sexual violence on college campuses is pervasive. The recent outrage over Brock Turner’s sentencing is just the tip of a sinister iceberg, one that permeates nearly every college campus today. For students involved in fraternity and sorority life, this issue is especially important for us to address.
Here are the facts: According to a 2014 study, women in sororities at the University of Oregon are over three times more likely to experience sexual violence than their non-Greek fellow students. More recently, an external review of the Oregon Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) community reported peer pressure within sororities not to report sexual violence for fear of social repercussions, among other concerning conclusions.
I hear these findings and I cringe. I am a sorority sister, and a member of the Oregon FSL community, but disturbing reports like this one make it hard for me to reconcile that part of my identity with my feminism-- and, frankly, with my desire to be a decent human being. How can I knowingly align myself with a group that pushes issues like sexual assault under the rug?
I’m still trying to answer this question. Most days I am proud of my Greek membership. My sorority was founded with arguably feminist motives: 12 women came together in 1867 to support each other during a time when women were a small minority on college campuses. They pledged to have each others’ backs, and to live with integrity, honor, respect, and sincere friendship.
With this historical context, it is even more disturbing that sorority women are at greater risk for sexual assault then the other students. Members of a group created to support women in a patriarchal world are now facing its dangers at higher rates. Assaults are always the fault of the perpetrator, but rape culture shifts the blame to the victim, who, as this report shows, are often members of sororities.
Sorority history and values are empowering, and they reflect the personal experience I have had. The relationships I’ve formed in the last two years through my sorority have been invaluable. The strong, motivated women I have met offer me incredible support as I navigate the challenges of university life.
When I look at this external review’s alarming findings, I struggle to reconcile two worlds: the sorority life I live, and the FSL community as a whole. The report does not reflect my day-to-day experiences, but at the same time, I cannot deny that it shines light on a dangerous reality.
Denial is an inescapable feature of the FSL community right now. Members feel victimized and targeted by “the media.” They’re quick to point out successful philanthropy events, genuine mentorship and powerful anti-sexual violence campaigns within sororities and fraternities. These things, they argue, are rarely publicized.
While some of these claims are valid, every time I hear some version of “they’re picking on us!,” I push back. Yes, we do positive work, and many students have extremely positive Greek experiences, but sexual assaults are being covered up and ignored in our culture. Nothing can excuse that. FSL doesn’t just have a PR problem. We have a serious culture problem, as well.
When I think of the incredible things my sorority sisters have accomplished, and of what I have learned from my FSL experience, I have hope that change is possible. For example, my sorority produced a production of the Vagina Monologues in February to raise awareness and funds for sexual violence prevention efforts. We received incredible support from FSL as a whole, and the entire process was incredibly empowering. Greek organizations, particularly for women, have untapped potential to challenge the status quo and transform the lives of their members. That’s why many of them began. One day, maybe these organizations will reconnect with their supportive --even feminist-- roots.
For that to happen, however, the denial has to stop. As an FSL member, I have a responsibility to face these facts in this external review and denounce the dark side of our organizations. I hope that the rest of my community chooses to do the same.
Vox Siren is a creative change agency located in Portland, Oregon. We are the leaders of women-centered creative solutions. We create immersive experiences so that all people can benefit from the stories, skills and safety of women. Our product is culture shift.
SPECIAL EVENT COORDINATOR INTERNSHIP
Description: Vox Siren is producing a public screening and artistic celebration of the films directed and produced by girls in our Produced By Her storytelling summer program. The Special Event Intern will have the opportunity to get creative with the Vox Siren team to design a memorable and impactful experience for Portland.
Event Planning and Execution
Work with Special Events Manager and/or key volunteers to coordinate event logistics
Keep guest lists and event data up to date
Work with Special Event Manager to procure and organize supplies for events
Event planning, promotion, and on-site execution including set-up and teardown
Coordinate logistics with emcee and special guestsPoster designated spots in PDX
Contact special guests, VIPs and sponsors to confirm details
Create Facebook and twitter updates for event
Education and Experience: High School Diploma with some course work at a 4-year college or university
Must have a strong interest in event planning
Previous event volunteer experience a strong plus
Must have a working knowledge of Microsoft Excel and Word
Database experience preferred
Customer service experience
Outgoing and well spoken
Handles stress well
A go-getter/pleasant personality
Creative and detail-oriented
Ability to exercise good judgment
A “can do” attitude and desire to learn
Ability to follow instructions and also work independently
Sense of humor is a must!
TIME COMMITMENT AND COMPENSATION
Beginning July 18th-August 28th, approximately 5-10 hours a week
This is an unpaid internship that allots a $100 thank-you gift at the conclusion
Letter of recommendation written by Vox Siren’s Director of Vision and Partnership if completed internship successfully
Opportunity to be part of the celebration of women’s stories
Vox Siren is producing a few other events this year. We are hoping to contract a Special Event Coordinator for future events.
If you are interested in being considered for this position, send resume and cover letter to: email@example.com
by Maria Webster
Vox Siren came to be because our team wants - above all else - to elevate the stories of women. We are a creative change agency that believe all people benefit from the stories, skills and safety of women. This summer, we’ve prepared a unique way to do exactly that.
Vox Siren’s Zoe Piliafas has been working throughout this year to bring the right partners together for this special project. So this summer in partnership with Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest, NW Documentary, Metro, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Cycle Oregon, the Regional Arts and Culture Council, Upswell and Travel Portland, Vox Siren is presenting “Produced By Her,” a summer program designed to broadcast the voices of young women in Portland.
Twelve young women at De La Salle High School will spend five weeks exploring the importance of women's stories. They will work in groups to produce short documentaries which will premiere at the Hollywood Theater in August of 2016. The Produced By Her girls will also get to go on a historical bike ride and work with Metro to create an exciting bicycle map that highlights the stories of women in their films.
These young women will learn practical skills from videography to bike safety, practice leadership and public speaking, and finally, see their own work on the big screen. They will explore the history of Portland and learn about the women who helped shaped our city.
Kerri Lynne Thorp, Vox Siren’s Creative Director, will be the Program Director, and Kalimah Abioto will partner with Girls Inc.’s superstar facilitator Abby Lucero to guide the young women through the program. Abby Lucero is a seasoned Guide at Girls Inc., and she works hard every year to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. Kalimah Abioto is a writer, filmmaker and a recipient of the Hollins University Nicole Kohn Film Award for Exceptional Filmmakers. She is a co-creator, along with her four sisters, of The People Could Fly Project, a multimedia project documenting the dreams and stories of people in the African Diaspora. Vox Siren’s own Kelly Hansen and Zoe Piliafas will be leading special professional development workshops.
As part of the program, Melissa Lowery will host a VIP screening and workshop of her film, “Black Girl in Suburbia,” an official selection of last year’s International Black Women’s Film Festival. This eye-opening documentary explores the experiences of young black girls growing up in predominantly white communities. The Produced By Her girls will have the opportunity to ask Melissa about the process of making the documentary, and her experience as a female filmmaker.
Other exciting activities include bike education with the BTA, a VIP photoshoot and interview session with Intisar Abioto of Black Portlanders, professional editing experience at NW Documentary, a blog workshop with Margaret Jacobsen as well as special guests and field trips.
Throughout this exciting summer, Rachel Bracker will join Kalimah Abioto and Kerri Thorp in collecting footage for a documentary about the girls’ experience. Our goal is to help these young women give voice to their own stories, and to demonstrate the community value of their work by screening it publicly!
On Sunday, August 28th, 2016, Vox Siren, along with our partners, will host a public screening of all of the Produced By Her short films, as well as the all-encompassing documentary, to share the voices of these talented young women and bring them to the attention of the community at large.
Stay tuned for more updates. This is going to be an exciting summer!
We want to thank all of our partners for making this possible. A special shout out to Yeruwelle de Rouen at Girls Inc of the Pacific Northwest for all of your hard work launching this project!
Follow @voxsiren and #ProducedByHer on Twitter and Instagram to follow the girls on their journey.
ATTN: Portland Girls age 13-17 we have THREE spots left for our exciting free summer girls documentary program that starts next week!
You can be a filmmaker, learn from the talented Kalimah Abioto and see your work on the big screen at the Hollywood Theater!
Vox Siren has partnered with Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest, NW Documentary, Metro, Cycle Oregon Travel Portland and the The Bicycle Transportation Alliance to create a five week program in which girls will explore the importance of women's stories and produce short documentaries which will be screened at the Hollywood Theater! Not to mention other fun activities like a historical bike ride, a VIP screening of Black Girl in Suburbia and a photoshoot with Intisar Abioto.
This program runs
June 13th - July 15th, 2016
Monday - Thursday
10am - 4pm
in NE portland
If interested, please complete the form below and we will contact you if selected!
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