Friday, May 11, 2007

Gaia Women

They are called Gaia women, named after the planet that they fight to protect. But unlike traditional warriors, their weapons neither kill nor maim. The weapons of the Gaia women are letters, emails, phone calls, research papers and meetings. Some are held in public, in community halls and churches across the planet, while others are impromptu affairs held in kitchens, living rooms, or wherever women gather.

And while Gaia warriors share many of the strengths that are characterized by military fighters, such as courage and strength, these Gaia women temper these characteristics with humility, compassion and diligence. They are for the most part unpaid for the thousands of hours that they devote to their cause. They balance the needs of their own families with the needs of the planet, the Mother that gives life to us all.

I know these women. I'm proud to call them friends, sisters-in-arms and heroes. This Mother's Day I celebrate who they are, and honor all that they so unselfishly do. I thank them and I name them. And for every name on this list, there are a dozen more I have forgotten and apologize for forgetting. What makes these women even more remarkable is that those I forget to name will forgive me, because they do not work for recognition or honor. They have seen that there is work to do be done, and they do it.

And so here is my partial list - names of women who work tirelessly to save the planet, to save the Mother that nurtures us all. They are, in no particular order: Janet McNeill, Liz Armstrong, Linda Gasser, Libby Racansky, Marion Odell, Anne Rochon Ford, Sue Larsh, Dr. Rosalie Bertell, Monica Willard, Lesley Forrester, Mavis Carlton, Deb Vice, Maureen Riley, Ruth Grier, Dorothy Golden-Rosenberg, Anne Hansen, Gail Lawlor, Justine Merritt, Loretta Michaud, Anna Edwards, Larraine Roulston, Miriam Wyman, Helen Break, Elizabeth May, Mary Drummond, Dr. Theo Colborn, Susan Antler, Gail Cockburn. Remember these names: they are the champions of our age.

There are others too, dear sweet ones who have been taken from us way too soon, but whose work continues to inspire us. Irene Kock, Jessica Markland, Evylin Stroud, Marg Wilbur and so many notable others. These were women of such remarkable strength and vision and that even in death they inspire us.

To celebrate who these remarkable women were, and continue to be, is to understand that it is within each and every one of us to make a difference. Through the gift and vision of yet another woman, I recently discovered a story that explains the magic of the power of one. And the story begins like this,

"On a buffety, blustery early summer day, when the news was bad and the sky turned yellow, a strange thing happened in the town where I live."

As The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering, by Sharon Mehdi continues, two grandmothers take a stand in a local park with the single goal of saving the world. They don't speak, they don't act, they merely stand silently all day until people begin to ask what they are doing. While some laugh, other begin standing with them, until across the country thousands upon thousands of women - grandmothers, mothers and daughters, stand together. United and silent.

In a remarkable example of life imitating art, a new website,, inspired by The Great Silent Grandmother Gathering, is calling women to stand together on this Mother's Day:

"We are standing for the world's children and grandchildren, and for the seven generations beyond them. We dream of a world where all of our children have safe drinking water, clean air to breathe, and enough food to eat. A world where they have access to a basic education to develop their minds and healthcare to nurture their growing bodies. A world where they have a warm, safe and loving place to call home. A world where they don't live in fear of violence - in their home, in their neighbourhood, in their school or in their world. This is the world of which we dream. This is the cause for which we stand."

Join in the stand. On May 13th at 1:00 pm, stand in your local park, schoolyard or any place you deem appropriate. Invite your children, your men, the people who matter in your life, to join you. At exactly 1 p.m. ring a bell, clap your hands or make a sound to signify the beginning of the five minutes of silence. During the silence think about what you and those you love can do to bring peace and hope to Mother Earth. Commit to her protection and celebrate her beauty at this most glorious time of year, and remember to say, "Thank-you."

Happy Mother's Day!


For more information on Sharon Mehdi's remarkable book, visit is the creation of Deborah Ballam, Ph.D., Provost for Women's Policy Initiatives at Ohio State University.


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