Between comments on legitimate rape, controversy over reproductive rights, and ongoing discrepancies between the pay of men and women, there are binders full of women in the U.S. who are attempting to overcome big obstacles.
Shine Global offers a helping hand for women and girls on their road to empowerment. Shine is a local non-profit organization that combines art and yoga as an outlet for local ladies as well as international travel and service opportunities to lift up other women around the world through a common creative spirit.
Shine operates year-round, providing fusion yoga and art classes, workshops and teen programs as well as annual opportunities to volunteer working with women and children in Africa. The organization has generated a healthy group of participants and supporters who this year will facilitate the inaugural Muse Women's Conference in March.
The brainchild of a former editor of Outside Magazine, Amanda Stuermer, Shine combines her personal passions of yoga and creative writing. In its fifth year, the group now operates in six schools and provides adult classes on a regular basis.
"Yoga helps develop self-awareness. Creativity develops self-expression to give them a voice. And service and travel provide self-purpose and self-esteem," said Stuermer of Shine participants. "It shows them how they can be a catalyst for change."
On Feb. 9, McMenamins will host a benefit concert for Shine with the band Shinyribs. Proceeds from the show, fronted by Kevin Russell of the alt-country crew The Gourds, will go to Shine's in-school programs, which provide a calm moment for yoga practice and offer a creative outlet for girls ages 7 and up. The programs are offered to schools free of charge.
The success of Shine, Stuermer's experiences at other national women's conferences, and a Rosie the Riveter attitude led to the creation of the Muse conference.
"The last several years I've traveled to other places for International Women's Day—I lobbied on Capitol Hill and listened to Hillary Clinton," said Stuermer. "I've been going off to somewhere else to bring this shot of inspiration back to my community, but what I wanted to do is bring that inspiration here."
Inspiration is an understatement.
Muse will feature three multicultural, multigenerational keynote speakers who are beyond inspiring, one of whom, after a lifetime of struggling for the opportunity to be educated, started a program that restores schools in Zimbabwe. Dr. Tererai Trent's tear-jerking educational success story led Oprah Winfrey to call Trent her favorite guest of all time. Take that, Tom Cruise.
"Each of the women has an incredible story, and a voice that speaks to personal and global change," said Stuermer.
Other guest presenters include journalist Jensine Larsen, creator of World Pulse, an online media network that connects women and allows them to express their own unique voice, and author of the award-winning novel The Crying Tree, Naseem Rakha.
Muse will also provide workshops offered by local women, teaching that change starts internally through nutrition, writing, singing and yoga.
"The timing for the conference is right," said Cassondra Schindler, who along with Stuermer and creative powerhouse René Mitchell helped to develop and plan the event. "There are so many amazing women in our community, and this is an opportunity for them to connect and get inspired."
The Muse conference will take place March 1-3 preceding International Women's Day on March 8.
"People are going to recognize their power, individually, to create positive change," said Schindler. "I hope that there are connections and constructive relationships born from this event that will go on to get people mobilized." SW
Shine Benefit Concert with Shinyribs
7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9
McMenamin's Father Luke Room
Muse Women's Conference
More information at museconference.org