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International Women’s Day — Celebrating women’s lives

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Honoring and celebrating both the commonalities as well as the different life experiences of women is at the heart of a local event planned Friday, March 8, in recognition of International Women’s Day.

“Yellow Springs Celebrates International Women’s Day,” featuring art and art-making, food and conversation and a panel discussion,  will be held from 6–9 p.m. at 1050 E. Herman St.

Organizers include Alice Young-Basora, a professional artist; Jalana Lazar, a nurse midwife; Kayla Rothman-Zecher, a lawyer who specializes in immigration and refugee rights with a focus on sexual and gender-based violence; and Angie Hsu, a potter who also is involved in anti-trafficking work.

The panelists are Neenah Ellis, station manager at WYSO radio; Sirisha Naidu, an associate professor of economics at Wright State University; and Sierra Leone, a Dayton-based writer and poet who was the 2018 Ohio Governor’s Award recipient for Community Development and  -Participation.

The organizers and panelists “all come from different perspectives on women’s issues,” Hsu said earlier this week.

While International Women’s Day is recognized widely around the world, the day has historically had a lower profile in the U.S., Young-Basora said in a phone interview last week.

“It’s kind of taken a back seat,” she said, adding that she and the other local organizers wanted “to put something in place [in Yellow Springs] that we can build upon over the next couple years.”

Honoring women’s lives has deeper resonance for Young-Basora when thinking about both her teenage daughter and her  elderly mother.

Having a daughter “changes your perspective,” she said, especially “when looking at what kind of world I want to leave for her.”

Young-Basora’s ideal is one of mutual support and appreciation.

“We live in a culture where women are raised to be competitive with each other — to be threatened by someone’s beauty, talent or relationship,” she said.

“The competition between stay-at-home moms and working moms — that makes me sad,” she added. “I think we can do better.”

She said she’s also inspired by her mother, who’s now living at Friends Care.

“She’s this dynamo genius artist, a paralegal, who had her own business. But she never really got to be the fullness of who she was.”

For Young-Basora, International Women’s Day celebrates not only the complexity of women’s lives, but also the “everydayness” of being a woman — “how we parent our kids, or cook our foods, or do our jobs.”

“We’re all so multi-faceted,” she said.

Co-organizer Angie Hsu agrees.

And she’s happy that Friday’s local event includes diverse perspectives among the participants.

“For me, my family is from Taiwan and China,” she said.

She sees that “there has been great progress and change,” concerning women’s lives both here and around the world,  “but there is also a lot of work to be done.”

International Women’s Day offers an opportunity “to spend time thinking about something that still needs attention and awareness,” Hsu said.

The Yellow Springs celebration on Friday will start with participatory art-making — such as drawing and coloring postcards to send to women in participants’ lives and making posters to hold during the weekly noon to 1 p.m. “Peace Hour” downtown Saturday, March 9.

There will also be complimentary refreshments as well as arts and handicrafts for sale by local women artists, with a percentage of the proceeds going to a local organization supporting refugee and immigrant women entrepreneurs.

Organizers said they are also happy to have learned of other events taking place in town Friday in recognition of Women’s Day.

Also beginning at 6 p.m. March 8, House of AUM, in Kings Yard, will host a women’s meditation circle facilitated by Lynda Terry.  The meditation, which will last about 45 minutes, is “in honor of the day and in solidarity with thousands of other women’s circles gathering around the world to do the same,” Terry wrote in an online post.

Afterward, House of AUM will host an open house for the general public, featuring mini-sessions offered by women healers and teachers and refreshments provided by the new restaurant/deli Greene Canteen. 

Admission is free, but donations may be made in support of the local Women’s Feminist Health Fund. 

Also Friday, Yellow Springs Brewery will be offering a new brew on tap in honor of the day, and the Winds will have special dishes on the menu.

For Young-Basora, all support efforts work together.

“As women, we live through things we don’t anticipate. We rise, and thrive and survive,”  she said. “That’s when we realize we need to lean on each other.”

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