When I came to FMF two years ago and found out I'd be organizing a group of states in this ethereal region called "the Midwest" on account of my Oklahoma roots, I had to laugh - though I did, indeed, spend 18 years in the Sooner State, the rest of the states on my list - Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana - I could identify on a map, and that was about it.
As I have gotten to know and traveled through the Midwest, with its different political climates and cultural sentiments, I've had the privilege of meeting some of the most incredible feminists the region has to offer. This last Spring, I traveled to the Chicago area, and I was really inspired by the feminist groups I met with there.
Particularly wonderful to see was groups that are taking it upon themselves not only to do a fantastic job with activism on campus, but to reach beyond them into the greater Chicago-area community itself. They're also in the beginning stages of reaching out to each other to form a Chicago-wide alliance of feminist student groups to co-host events, share knowledge, and learn from each other. Super cool!
Here at FMF, we love seeing activists work together to keep from reinventing the wheel each time, so for my FEMMY, I'd like to briefly acknowledge some of the fantastic feminist activists in the Chicago area that are reaching out to each other and the community to work smarter, not harder!
Feminists United at the University of Illinois Chicago - This group, a soon-to-be affiliate (yay!) of FMF's campus program, is living proof that activist groups can redefine their presence on campus! When I met with Jenna Andriano, the leader of the group, in February, I was really impressed with their motivation and desire to ramp up their activism and solidify a relationship with FMF. Though I've only been in touch with this group for a few months, I've been impressed with them already!
The Feminist Collective at Northeastern Illinois University - What an amazing group of women! Though they face some challenges making a name for themselves on a mostly commuter-based campus, these folks have proved that activism can find a home anywhere. Bolstered by support from the Women's Studies department on campus, one of the coolest things about this affiliated group is that they don't limit themselves to on-campus activism. They also actively seek partnerships in the community and are really trying to get the aforementioned Chicago-wide feminist-student-group alliance up and running.
Feminists United at Roosevelt University - Another group that I met with during the Chicago trip, this group is so fantastic! FU won Student Organization of the year at RU in 2009 - how awesome is that? One of the co-leaders, Haley Leibovitz, deserves some special props for her devotion to community involvement. Much like the NEIU folks, this group is bound and determined to not just make a difference on their campus, but in the wider community as a whole, and I applaud them for being so devoted.
Thank you, Chicago feminists, for being so fierce! You definitely deserve this FEMMY!
This article was featured in our May 2010 monthly Choices eZine. Sign up for our alerts to stay up-to-date with the latest feminist news and to receive the monthly eZine.