Posted by: stelladuffy | May 8, 2015

the day after the night before – jumping in (again)

Lots of people I know are tired, upset and worried today.
Some people I know are furious.
Some people are resigned.
And yes, I even know a few people who are very happy indeed.

Personally, this is not the election result I wanted.
Mind you, even a Labour landslide would have had me worried – and I say that as a Labour voter. I’m tired of adversarial politics. Of politics and politicians that do not reflect the diverse world in which we live. I do support parliamentary democracy (ie, I don’t know of any revolutions, even non-violent ones, that have worked for all of the people all of the time), but I think what really matters now is what we do next, what we EACH do next.

Here’s what I’m going to do now :
– keep working on, promoting, sharing, and developing Fun Palaces. Fun Palaces are about community activism, about engaging from the grassroots up and the local out, about people creating by and for their own locality, with their neighbours. They are about making it possible for everyone to feel able to engaged, and to know that their contribution is welcome. The developing part is in italics because we still don’t know exactly what Fun Palaces is. Are. I don’t expect we ever will. Each of the 138 Fun Palaces last year had the tone of where they were, a sense of their own locality. Each Fun Palace has taught us more about what Fun Palaces might be, can be. We don’t run our tiny Fun Palaces office of four part-timers believing we know what to do and telling signups how to do it. We run it knowing we are learning, growing, changing, developing. It’s the Fun Palaces themselves (the process of making as much as the weekend events) that are teaching us what they are.
– keep working for the Women’s Equality Party. Right now that means answering the massive amount of emails in #WE’s inbox in every spare minute I get. There are emails of support and interest from people of all ages, all genders, every part of the nations of Britain, people identifying as disabled, LGBT, BAME and the most mainstream of the mainstream. They want a new thing, they want to make a difference and they want to help.

I see these two as very linked. Fun Palaces were run by 72% women last year. Maybe that’s because of the Joan origins or because our core team was mostly women. Maybe that’s because women are more likely to volunteer (and 22% of those making/leading Fun Palaces were volunteers), maybe that’s because women are more likely to choose to work within their community, maybe that’s because women have found it harder to get on, been less welcomed as leaders in the mainstream/traditional world … I really don’t know, but that’s what we saw. I see that women are keen to engage, to make change, to do. And I welcome PEOPLE to engage.

I’m also going to get on with my new book. Because I am, after all, a writer in addition to all the rest of my work, and I didn’t stop wanting to tell stories, share story.

We all need to find our own ways to take part, to be IN the world, not outside and saddened by it.
My ways to do that work won’t be for everyone.
Where they are, I welcome you to join me.
Where they’re not, I urge you to find a way to make a difference that suits you.
(At the very least, it feels better than waiting for someone else to make the change.)

I urge you to jump in.

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Posted by: stelladuffy | April 18, 2015

Women’s Equality Party, Meeting 2, Today – April 18 2015

A few weeks ago I attended the inaugural meeting of the Women’s Equality Party.
It was called from a desire to FINALLY make a difference, not just for some women, not just for privileged women, but for all women.
And therefore, OBVIOUSLY, for everyone, because when half the world is equal, then ALL the world is equal.
And, using the Icelandic model where applicable, to force the main parties to put women’s equality TRULY on their agendas too.

Right now, even in the privileged west, we all too often treat women as if we are a minority.
Women are not a minority, and treating us as such doubly, trebly disadvantages women of colour, disabled women, lgbtq women etc etc.
We’re not there yet.
And the party, as such, is not formed yet.
It’s nascent, it’s in the process of making itself, and it needs EVERYONE WHO CARES in it NOW to make a difference. To make it the party they – we – need it to be.

The first meeting was called by a friend of my niece, and now a friend of mine. That’s how I knew about it.
The second meeting today has had a bit wider publicity, so we’re hoping the group who come along today are wider, and less mates of mates!) but it’s all being done in spare time and around other work, families, cares, health issues – all the stuff we all always deal with.
If you’re reading this in London on April 18 2015 and can come along to Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, 5.30pm for 6pm start, please do!
Here’s the event page (facebook, no website yet …) :

And if you think the Women’s Equality Party might not be this or that enough, might not represent these women or those women (or men or gender-fluid or non-binary or ANYONE) enough, PLEASE get involved.
Please get involved now, while it’s still becoming, please offer to be on the steering committee, answer the emails, do the work, help the people who are doing this now as we make it up.
It’s embryonic, but it will become the thing that it’s made up of now.
It needs all of us who care about equality in it.
Maybe I will see you at today’s meeting, if you can make it, maybe see you on the mailing list if not.
There’s a real need for branches/chapters (I’m not sure what to call them) outside of London, and volunteers to start them would be brilliant.
And I know, you don’t have time, I don’t have time, NO ONE who has said they’ll be on the steering committee has time.
But what’s that “be the change you want to see” that I’ve seen attributed to everyone from Gandhi to Mandela to Eleanor Roosevelt? Here’s (another) chance to be that change.

There isn’t a website yet.
There is a facebook page.
The email address to ask to be added to the mailing list is on this page as well. (Can’t put it here due to spam likelihood.)
And a great blog about it on Mumsnet from Sophie Walker.

Join in. If you want to be part of it, you are wanted.
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And here’s the Mission Statement :

Equality for women isn’t a women’s issue. When women fulfill their potential, everyone benefits. Equality means better politics, a more vibrant economy, a workforce that draws on the talents of the whole population and a society at ease with itself.

The Women’s Equality Party will be a new non-partisan force in British politics bringing together women and men of all ages and backgrounds, united in the campaign for women to enjoy the same rights and opportunities as men so that both sexes can flourish.

The Women’s Equality Party will work towards such a society. We will push for equal representation in politics and business to ensure women’s voices are heard at the same volume as men’s. We will urge an education system that creates opportunities for all girls and boys and an understanding of why this matters. We will press for equal pay and equal parenting rights enabling women and men to share opportunity and responsibility in the workplace and at home. We will seek an end to violence against women.

We will bring about change by winning—support, votes and seats. We will not try to present ourselves as a party with an answer on every issue and a full palette of policies. Our focus will be clear and unambiguous and we will not stop attracting votes from the other political parties until they embrace and adopt our agenda of equality.

Posted by: stelladuffy | March 25, 2015

because nice things happen too

2014 was a hell of a year, as well as having breast cancer for the second time and three surgeries (spaced over the year), my father-in-law died extremely painfully and very sadly – and, at the same time as these horrible things, Fun Palaces, the biggest thing I’ve ever made (not alone, obviously!) took off and grew to become far more astonishing and glorious and hopeful than we could ever have dreamed, I wrote a teeny tiny opera (libretto) for Tete a Tete (and have now been asked to write a slightly larger one, yay), and wrote a women-in-science play commissioned for her company, Theree Legged Theatre, by the gorgeous Lucy Pitman-Wallace.
Another good thing that happened is that a Twitter conversation (use Twitter for good, my friends! it can be done!) led to the splendid Salt Publishing collecting and publishing my short stories Everything is Moving, Everything is Joined.
And today I heard that the anthology is longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize.
Having been twice longlisted for the Orange Prize, among a bunch of other long and short listings, I’m well aware that being longlisted is not the same as being shortlisted, and being shortlisted is definitely not the same as making the tearful speech.
But it’s very lovely regardless.

The main reason I’m sharing it is that we ALL have rubbish years. Sometimes we have rubbish decades. And, if we’re lucky, there are gifts to be found in those rubbish times as well. I’m now awaiting a date for my 4th (and final – woop!) surgery, I’m in less in pain than I’ve been in over a year, and this nice thing happened today.
I hope, whatever tough things are going on for you, that some nice things can happen today for you too.
(Even if it’s only that the rain is good for the trees.)

Here’s the gorgeous cover Salt gave my collection.

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