Logo for 1 Billion Rising Revolution

When I first heard of “One Billion Rising”, I had just returned from my annual southwest retreat and was gearing up for a long, slow winter of writing.  A friend in Toronto said, “Have you seen this?” and I was immediately afire.  One billion women dancing around the world on the same day to raise awareness and demand an end to violence against women?   I am SO THERE.

So I waited for ‘someone’ in my town to pick it up.  ‘Someone’ should really do this, I thought.  ‘Someone’ really needs to step up here, I worried.  I waited, and when I could not stand it any longer, I jumped in.  I created the Tallahassee One Billion Rising/V-Day We Love Women event, kicked off by the One Billion Rising/V-Day Dance on February 14, and blossoming into a 4 day love-fest for women, full of free workshops and activities all over the city.  It is a huge vision, the one that I wanted ‘someone’ else to create; so much for my quiet winter of writing!  I’m proud to say that I got confirmation of the event on October 9, 2012, which made Tallahassee the first city in Florida to get on Eve Ensler’s global events map on www.onebillionrising.org.

I walked into it innocently, with very few ties to the powers that be in the community, powers that were surely more qualified to host and organize this event than me!  I am a solo community member, women, mom, wife, author, educator, and concerned citizen; yes, I have been an educator for 25 years and participated and led women’s circles for almost as many.  But this was BIG.  As I found out, there were more than enough individuals and organizations that wanted to line up beside me to help pull this vision off.  And it is HAPPENING. Here is our Facebook event page that has the up-to-the-minute details:  http://tinyurl.com/bjwaja6

I am BLOWN AWAY by how much this city wants to support its women.  The county has issued a proclamation that February 14 is “One Billion Rising/V-Day”.  We await word for a similar Mayoral Proclamation from the city.  We have the support of several agencies in town that support women of all populations.  We are getting radio and news coverage.  Dance teachers all over town are teaching free dance workshops in the next weeks so that we can flashmob the crowd with the official “Break the Chain” dance.  We have a professional videographer documenting the event.  Multiple women have generously offered up free workshops for women all weekend. The heart that is evident in this town is astounding, and makes me want to cry.
As a woman who has gone through several stages after experiencing multiple acts of violence (victim, survivor, thriver, and now server), it touches me at such a deep level to watch so many mobilize under such a vitally important cause.  As we know, 1 in 3 women will be beaten or raped in her lifetime; violence against women is unacceptable and its pervasiveness is an atrocity.  I am grateful and proud to live in such an aware and progressive place in the south, and in particular, Florida.  It seems Florida always ends up the brunt of jokes, making the news about its backwardness…and our fellow countryperson’s cackle behind their hands.  I’m glad in this little sweet spot of Florida, we are proving them wrong.
AND…I learned something.  I was waiting for ‘someone’ to step up and bring this wonderful event to my town because I thought I was not worthy/strong/powerful/smart/fill-in-the-blank to do it.  Baloney!  My fight over the years to heal myself from my challenges makes me worthy.  My passion makes me powerful.  And I AM smart; I am making mistakes, but I am learning from them.  With the gracious support and co-leadership of my co-sponsors, I am getting the benefit of learning so much about leadership.  And my decision to take this up is opening doors in the community that I might not otherwise have had access to.  Somehow, my personal passion for the safety of all people on this planet overcame my fears and inadequacies.  I could not permit myself to hide in the shadows, this was bigger than me.  And in responding to the call of service, I am becoming a better person.

Tallahassee event created and organized by Licia Berry and Illumined Arts, more info at www.LiciaBerry.com

A deep bow and grateful thanks to all of our Co-Sponsors:
UniteWomen.org FL
Rumbles Office Equipment Solutions
PACE Center for Girls
Big Bend Homeless Coalition
Oasis Center for Women and Girls
Achieve Higher Ground
PFLAG-Tallahassee
Tallahassee NOW
The Family Tree Community Center
Your Life Expressions
Unity Eastside
The F-Word @ FSU
several individual private donors

Please contact Licia Berry if you would like to help!  licia@liciaberry.com

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