SPARKteam Applications are OPEN! →
Y’all have been asking us for MONTHS and the time is finally here! From today until May 19th, we’ll be accepting apps to join the SPARKteam. We are looking for:
- girls (including trans girls!) between the ages of 13 and 22
- who are into blogging, activism, and organizing
- who want to join a team of activists making local and national change
- who are located anywhere on this beautiful earth
- who have 15-25 hours a month to dedicate to the cause
We can offer you:
- A supportive environment of girls and women who love to collaborate, communicate ideas and support each other.
- The chance to learn how to plan and execute both local and national activist campaigns.
- Writing experience! You’ll be a published blogger with a repertoire of online work.
- Online trainings and workshops to help you hone your feminist knowledge.
- Real and valuable experience in the world of activism.
- The opportunity to make your voice heard through media appearances, speaking engagements, and more—SPARK girls have given TED talks, testified at the UN, and been on Nick News, among other things.
- Money! We pay $25 per blog/action.
Click through for deets & to apply!
Hey! Sorry if this has been languishing, Tumblr never tells us when we have new messages :( For other readers, this is the petition in question!
We’ve had a lot of success at change.org, and I want to be honest and say that a big part of that is having access to change.org’s amazing press contacts and email lists. With their help, we got our asks in front of people who we might never have reached on our own. But that’s not all it takes! Lots of petitions that don’t have change.org support blow up, and lots of petitions that do languish unsigned. With that in mind, here are some things we’ve learned about petition success:
- Tell a story. People are attracted to narratives, especially personal ones. Petitions and asks have more success when they are coming from someone who experienced first hand something they are trying to change, and then can connect that back to a larger currently in the press. For example, our Steubenville petition was co-written by Connor Clancy, an athlete who saw first-hand the way that misogyny often runs rampant in sports culture, and our Seventeen petition was fronted by Julia, who was a Seventeen reader and had lots of friends who were too. Whitehouse.gov is a different platform for sure and doesn’t lend itself quite as well to narrative storytelling, but think about your story when you share the petition or post it on places like Tumblr. Why is this important to you? Why is it important to the people you want to sign? That’s one of the great things about Tumblr—people can add their own stories in reblogs, and if you get enough of those, boom, you have a whole showcase of reasons that this issue is important and NEEDS to be talked about.
- Get press. Do whitehouse.gov petitions ever get press? WHO CARES, if they don’t, make yours the first! (Well, except for that death star one.) Write a press release and send it to your local paper—this is especially potent if you’re from a smallish town/city or still a student, whether in high school or college. Small town papers are literally falling over themselves to get local stories; by dropping your activism into their lap, you are giving them a present! Have a narrative ready for them when you send a press release: how will this impact your local community? What do local residents stand to gain in supporting this movement? Most importantly, what can they do to help?
- Be pro-active: contact other writers and bloggers (like us! good job) when you see them covering a related issue. Leave the link to yr petition in the comments; email the authors personally; basically just be your number one advocate. Encourage others to do the same. Don’t just tell people to sign, tell them to sign and share.
- Watch the news cycle. This isn’t just important in terms of getting press; it’s also important in getting people to share your petition. If everyone is all riled the heck up over Steubenville in the media, you can easily tap into that conversation, that anger, and that drive for change. When you pitch your story to press, use articles they’ve written as a springboard. (“I see you’ve covered x, and I thought you’d be interested to know about Y, which is related and important because A B and C.”) To that end, use other groups’ public success as springboards for your own action. For example, we have not yet declared a “win” in our Steubenville petition, but when we do, jump on that! Use the momentum behind our success story, including any coverage our win gets, to bolster your own action and ask—our success acts as proof that this is a thing that people want, and you are providing another avenue for that. Remember also that a typical news cycle is 24 hours and you need to act very, very quickly.
- Talk to everyone. Explain your petition in 30 seconds or less including what you want, why it’s needed, and how people can sign on. Consider making a bit.ly or something for people to easily access the petition—if you’re talking to someone at the coffee shop or whatever yr not gonna be like “oh yeah go to whitehouse.gov slash unweildy url slash ridiculous string of numbers,” but you CAN say “it’s at bit dot ly slash assault” or something like that.
- Share, share, share! Start a hashtag. Ours was #EducateCoaches, and people contributed to it! Think of one that fits your issue and use it to shape the conversation. Invite people to share their stories on the hashtag. Post it on everyone’s facebook wall. @ people on twitter. Send emails to every teacher you’ve ever had.
- HAVE A CLEAR AND POWERFUL ASK. This is the absolute biggest. Make it simple and short. Make it so that people can read the headline of your petition, know what you want, and click sign without even reading the whole thing (because a lot of people won’t!). Whitehouse.gov kind of has a built-in ask in that the ultimate win is that your ask gets sent to policy experts—so make sure your petition ask is abundantly clear in what you want.
I hope this is helpful! Your ask is so crucial and neccessary—we really, desperately need to have a levelheaded and fact-based conversation about sex education in this country, including the importance of talking healthy relationships and consent. Everyone should jump on board this petition!
"As a boy, I find this success inspiring. It’s not just for girls. It shows that young people, working together, can make change happen. I go through every day looking around and seeing all of the things that just aren’t right, all the ways that we teenagers are taken for granted, exploited, and taken advantage of. It’s easy to think that we can’t do anything about it, that we have to wait until that magic future when we are the adults, but this victory shows that we can do things now, that we can speak truth to power and be heard. A baby lion is a lion nonetheless."
#we cried a little negl
Women Making Moves!: Interview with Nuala Cabral
#Sisters Action Media
Women Making Moves! is a monthly series that highlights women and girls of color making a name for themselves (and impacting others) in the areas of sexual/reproductive health, overall health and wellness, feminism, activism, entrepreneurship, the arts and sciences, and all-around pro-woman goodness.
Meet Nuala Cabral, educator, activist and award-winning filmmaker. A native of Rhode Island, Nuala teaches media production and media literacy in high schools, colleges and community centers. While earning a Master’s degree in Broadcast, Telecommunications, and Mass Media from Temple University, Nuala founded FAAN Mail (Fostering Activism and Alternatives Now!), a media literacy/activist project in Philadelphia. Obtaining an Art and Change Grant from the Leeway Foundation in 2011 enabled her to launch Sisters Action Media, FAAN Mail’s first youth media initiative. In addition to her media interests, Nuala is an advocate for social justice and women’s rights. She is a founding member of the Black Feminist Working Group, and an organizer in the movement to end street harassment.
I’ve been following Nuala on Twitter for some time (and you can follow her too!), and her passion, drive, and enthusiasm for using media as a form of advocacy for women and girls of color is awe inspiring. Check out her blog, read more about FAAN Mail, and check out her interview after the jump.
Nuala is totally amazing and you should definitely read this!
When people refuse to buy something, or buy product B instead of product A for what they believe to be political purposes, they might affect the bottom line of a company. They might even provoke that company to make changes to their products or practices. That’s great! But what they’re also doing, and what is so dangerous about telling young people that “voting with your dollars” is the most important thing they can do, is leaving the bulk of the power in the hands of those companies. This limits our own power—our power to create and to innovate and to call for new opportunities and experiences—to the power to consume (or not consume). It takes all of our experiences and lives and wants and needs and desires and possibilities and puts them into a dollar, ultimately conceding that yes, the best we can do is give other people our money and hope for the best.
Telling people to “vote with their pocketbooks” reinforces the idea that money and power are irrevocably intertwined. We shouldn’t look to those among us who have the most disposable income or the biggest advertising budget or the largest market research team to be setting the tone of our cultural landscape. We should be setting that tone ourselves. Not all of us have money, but all of us have voices, and it would do us well to encourage young people to develop and strengthen their voices rather than wait until they have enough money to be counted (a day that, for many, will never come).
SPARK is hiring! →
Just four days left to get your applications in to join the SPARKteam! Perks include:
- Being part of a totally rad and amazing group of girls & women working to change the world and getting results.
- Amazing opportunities—our SPARKteam members have been interviewed on radio, television & in print; spoken at international conferences; and met with execs at major companies to talk about making media a better place for girls of all stripes.
- Getting paid to write.
- Having your writing published on our website & in our extensive network (including outlets like HuffPo)
- Hanging out with your fellow teammates for an intensive activist & media training in Vermont in July (all expenses paid!)
- And MORE but I can’t tell you all the secrets!
Click through for requirements, deetz, & how to apply. Right now we’re especially looking for high school girls, girls of color, & lgbtq girls (we mean all of those letters—trans* girls are welcome & encouraged to apply!) in order to make sure our movement is truly encompassing the experiences, needs, & desires of all girls, but we welcome applications from all girls & young women 13-22. Apps are due June 4th!
SPARK is looking for new activists to join the SPARKteam! →
The SPARKteam is a core group of girls and young women (ages 13-22) armed with fierce writing and creative arts skills, a willingness and desire to learn and grow, powerful ideas, bold strategies for change and the creative prowess and leadership skills to be a voice for SPARK Movement. SPARKteammates are passionate about challenging the sexualization and objectification of women and girls and promoting girls’ sexual rights and healthy sexuality.
We want to stress that being on the SPARKteam requires a time commitment of between 10 and 20 hours per month depending on what’s going on with you and with SPARK. SPARKteam members are expected to:
- Do two “actions” per month. Actions can include blog posts, performances, videos, media appearances, op-eds, & other similar things—if it’s related to our mission and you can document it on our website, it probably counts!
- Post and discuss SPARK blogs on at least two social networking sites per month. Pushing SPARK content to your networks is a huge part of what we do—reposting on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, etc. is super important!
- Attend two scheduled chats each month with the SPARKteam to discuss blog topics, action ideas, get SPARK updates, etc.
- Attend two SPARKteam activist training retreats per year, all expenses covered by SPARK.
- Check in at least twice weekly on the SPARKteam’s private Facebook group to keep up with the SPARKteam and see what everyone is up to. New action and blog ideas and media opportunities are often posted in the group, so it’s vital that you read it regularly.
This is mostly a volunteer position, but SPARKteam members get paid for the actions & blogs they create. You’ll be paid $50 a month ($25 per completed/published action).
Click through above to read a little bit from SPARKteam member Crystal Ogar on why being on the SPARKteam totally rules, then download the application and get it in by June 4th! Right now we’re especially interested in recruiting high school girls, girls of color, & lgbtq girls in order to keep our ranks and perspectives truly representative of girls’ experiences, but we welcome applications from any & all interested girls ages 13-22.
We’re looking forward to reading yr applications!
Help SPARK fund its next initiative! →
We have until MIDNIGHT, TONIGHT, FRIDAY MAY 18TH to raise the money for our You’ve Been SPARK’d campaign! You’ve Been SPARK’d is basically a culture jamming starter kit, with sweet post-its that you can use to talk back to media & a central online gallery for people to share their images and talk about issues of representation.
B A S I C A L L Y it rules, and an anon donor just offered to start matching donations between $150 & $500! We know, that’s a lot, especially for our tumblr friends & loved ones, but you don’t have to go that big! We have sweet prizes at lower levels and every dollar counts. Please do us big ups & help us to continue supporting girls by sharing this everywhere.
#no girl is an island u know?
In a nutshell, at SPARK, we are thrilled to have incited public dialogue about a practice that has been escalating for years and needed a red flag. Yet we are also concerned. To position individual girls as doing this work alone is a way to marginalize a growing movement. To cover over the real way that women and girls are not fundamentally divided but are working together feeds the image of the angst-ridden teenage girl disengaged from the fretting, frustrated adult. And that is not an interesting story for the media — it’s a dangerous story.
Girls and women are SPARKing change together every day to achieve what Jamia Wilson of the Women’s Media Center, a SPARK partner, has described as “a cultural tipping point — where sexualization of girls is no longer acceptable, tolerated or profitable.” What is radical and what will in the end enable that change is the fact that it is women and girls working together, with the support of male allies, building an effective movement. That is what feminist activism looks like today. This kind of real story, this disruptive story, about women and girls joining together to demand a better, safer, more joyful world is being lived — and it needs also to be told.