Updated: September 30, 2020 06:30 PM
Created: September 30, 2020 02:51 PM
The Year of the Womxn was filled with laughter, tears, victories and challenges. (The 'x" in the word woman is intentional, and is explained at the bottom of this story.)
Born out of the MeToo movement, this 12-month program in 2019 was spearheaded by Zeitgeist. Their Communications and Creative Director, Sarah Lueck, explained, "It gave us an opportunity to learn and connect with exceptional women. And it highlighted the voices of underepresented sectors of our community. The definition of what it means to be a woman is so wide and varied."
A grant from the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation helped them connect with more women.
One of their main series was Cocktails and Conversations. The first one included Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan and Mayor Emily Larson, along with MPR's Angela Davis.
Musicians like Mary Bue spoke on a panel at a different event. "It was ultimately very empowering and supportive. I feel a lot of support right now for women in music," she told us.
She just released her 8th album, The World is Your Lover, and City Pages named her best songwriter in 2020. These successes are empowering, but she knows the industry is still male dominated. "It's so important to raise our voice and have more representation."
Another panelist with her was Diona Johnson, who now performs as Afrogeode. "Living in a community where there's not a lot of representation of people who look like me, it was important to provide my community with visibility," she told us.
She's a huge fan of Zeitgeist. "It's vital to keep them running. It's one of the few places that as a Black and queer woman, I feel safest."
Zeitgeist has had to change things up because of the pandemic. But they remain committed to more programming for years to come, based on what they learned during Year of the Womxn. Executive Director, Tony Cuneo, told us, "We are working harder than ever to build a community based on the ideas of creativity and inclusivity."
The Year of the Womxn is a finalist for a Touchstone Award, which are a recognition of the best non-profit work in our region by the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation. The Touchstone Awards are coming up virtually this year. They will air on WDIO on Tuesday, November 17th, at 6:30pm.
Zeitgeist is committed to making their programming inclusive to all women, and as such the planning committee decided to spell ‘woman’ a little differently- with an ‘x’ replacing the ‘a.’ This spelling has become a trend globally over the last few years and attempts to acknowledge the exclusion of many women throughout society and historical feminist movements. It intends to be accessible for all womxn, including transgender womxn, womxn of color, womxn from all nationalities, and other identities womxn self-distinguish with. Additionally, the different spelling often causes people to pause- helping to ignite contemplation and conversations around the complexity of gender.
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