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Posts Tagged ‘Exhale’

Exhale volunteers are people who care deeply about the wellbeing of others and who are motivated by making a meaningful contribution to a more peaceful world. Our volunteers come from all walks of life and range in age from teens to seniors. Ethnically and religiously diverse, volunteers are students, parents, and professionals with full personal lives. At Exhale, they work beside others with shared values and grow as people and changemakers.

Exhale volunteers Jackie and Danielle joined our Director of Programs, Jovida Ross, at the UC Berkeley Service Fair on Wednesday, September 7th to recruit new volunteers for our next training.

Our award-winning volunteer program is currently recruiting new volunteers for our next training, scheduled to begin Sept. 21.  APPLICATIONS ARE DUE SEPTEMBER 10TH.   Check out our listing on VolunteerMatch for more information on how to apply.

Read more about how Volunteers Lead the Way at Exhale on the VolunteerMatch blog.

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Exhale is a community of people with personal abortion experiences and when it comes to storysharing, we advocate that:  1) women who have had abortions must have the ability to control their own narratives in our public discourse; and 2) that we must have authority and decision-making over when and how our stories are used by advocates.

Thaler Pekar has been writing about the ethical sharing of stories in a series of blog posts; and her insights offer critical thinking for our community members and the advocates who seek to have access to our stories.

In a two-part series in PhilanTopic, Thaler outlines the concept of Ethical StorySharing, in Part 1:

Because stories are powerful, and because they are wholly owned by the person who shares them, we have an ethical obligation to use story in ways that do no harm. Whether we are asking for stories to better understand an organizational challenge, to use in our organizational communications, or for an advocacy campaign, our goal should be to empower, not exploit…

The need to refrain from treating story as a commodity goes beyond nonprofit and advocacy work; it should inform all your work with narrative. True narrative intelligence respects the sharer of the story and recognizes that his or her story is a unique part of them that cannot, and should not, be taken and shared without permission.

In Ethical StorySharing, Part 2, Thaler gives more advice to advocates who seek to work with stories:

Thinking about the stories you’re not hearing is critical to the ethical use of story. Do you have a responsibility to seek them out? Also, do you plan to label and publicly present the stories you do gather? And if so, how will the context affect the way the audience perceives those stories?…

Or you may be working with a stigmatized population, in which case you have a special responsibility to protect the sharer of the story. For example, you have an ethical obligation to share any knowledge you may have about what could happen to the person, personally or professionally, if they decide to share their story. Might you need to provide for the person’s safety? Does the person sharing his or her story understand how s/he could lose control over the context in which the story is shared, especially in super-public places like YouTube?

In “Working with Stories,” on the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Thaler writes about the concept of empathetic engagement, first described by Sam Gregory of WITNESS:

Develop and engage a keen sense of empathy. Consider what people physically and emotionally need in order to share their stories. Make certain that people are in no way coerced into sharing a story, and explore and protect against any possibilities that the teller may be stigmatized, or even harmed, because he or she has shared a story.

Remember that each individual wholly owns his or her stories. Personal stories are not commodities, to be taken from one person and given to another, in exchange for reimbursement of some sort…Remember, too, that the audience is a partner in the story sharing. Create conditions favorable to the listener fully receiving and making sense of the story.

Understand that story begets story. Story is a contagion: By sharing a story, you will elicit stories in response. Keep this in mind, creating both the time and physical requirements that respect and enable a flow of stories.

In order to hear the real range of people’s complex experiences and emotions, you must avoid communicating that only certain stories are acceptable, welcome, and valued.  If you are too descriptive about the types of stories you want to hear, you may not hear anything at all.

Sagely, Thaler writes:

Refrain from starting a narrative project with a predetermined sense of the stories you will hear. When stories are elicited with honesty and benevolence (and they must be!), you will most likely be surprised, delighted, and frightened by what you hear. Commit yourself to the journey, not to the product.

Finally, in “Pro-Voice and Pro-Chaos” in PhilanTopic, Thaler describes how Pro-Voice is inherently a practice of Ethical StorySharing:

Being “pro-voice” means being anti-predetermined story. The people who work with and support Exhale understand that embracing reality is the only authentic choice for those advocating for sustainable conflict resolution and a more peaceful social climate. Imagine if more advocates let go of their fear of being surprised, contradicted, or losing control and looked to solicit and share stories that didn’t necessarily fit predetermined agendas. In their representation of the complexity of reality, the resulting stories might appear to be chaotic. But the odds are excellent that out of that chaos, profound insight would follow.

To learn more about Thaler and her thinking on Ethical StorySharing, follow her on Twitter: @thaler.

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By Aspen Baker

Julie Davidson-Gómez

Susan Osborne

Jennifer Rudy

“Are all your board members this involved?” Deb, a donor in Seattle, asked me as we both waved goodbye to Julie, a board member who had just co-hosted a fundraising party at Deb’s home in November 2009.

“Yep!” I said.  “It’s very impressive,” she replied.

Impressive is a great word to describe the board service of Jennifer Rudy, Julie Davidson-Gómez and Susan Osborne.  Brought onto the board of directors as a cohort in 2005, Jen, Julie and Susan have recently left the board after successful completion of our maximum board term: two, three-year stints of service.  From their board member orientation to their transition celebration, their leadership has shaped what Exhale is today; and what we will become in the future. (more…)

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Dear Friends & Pro-Voice Allies,

There’s nothing quite like a partnership with MTV to get the word out!

Months after we worked with MTV on their groundbreaking special “No Easy Decision;” months after the Pro-Voice community stood together in peace taking a public stand besides the young women sharing their stories through “16 & Loved;” and months after the New York Times reported on our efforts and helped share our story… the word keeps spreading.

Our message is out. If you have a personal experience with abortion, Exhale is a community that welcomes you with love and respect.

Now, let’s work together to make sure this message reaches the people who need it most: young women and men with personal abortion experiences. Exhale has been working with our technical partners to develop a brand-new online public platform that will engage our growing community of Pro-Voice peacemakers. We expect to launch the first phase in the fall, with more phases launched throughout the next year. You’ve probably already noticed some changes in the way we communicate with you, such as receiving email from Exhale, rather than just me. Thanks to the support of people like you who have helped to sustain and grow Exhale, we have been able to invest in new leaders and now, there are more voices, ambassadors, and peacemakers speaking for the Pro-Voice movement than ever before!

Our use of technology and social media is expanding along with the Pro-Voice movement, because we know how important technology is for our community of women who have had abortions.  Technology is critical to our ability to tell our own stories with abortion and be heard with dignity and respect.

We need your support with this next phase.  We are about to launch our new platform for online engagement with the Pro-Voice movement. To be successful, we need to raise an additional $15,000 by August 19th.  I’m hoping you will jump in.

Can you make a donation to Exhale today and accelerate the Pro-Voice Momentum?

With your support, we will reach more young women and men with our message of love and respect.  Our new online tools will seed and grow new Pro-Voice Ideas; leverage and expand Pro-Voice Innovations; grow and support new Pro-Voice Leadership; and strengthen the impact of our Pro-Voice Community so that our love grows more powerful than anger and hate.

“16 & Loved” wasn’t just a one-time project; it points the way forward, demonstrating the possibilities for transforming the culture around abortion. You know that Exhale has a long history of taking important risks and producing exceptional results: from the original launch of the talkline to our latest partnership with MTV.  Now is the time to take another leap and keep the momentum going. We are ready to do it again. Are you?

Please donate to Exhale today.

Aspen Baker

Executive Director at Exhale

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Exhale is seeking candidates for a rare opportunity to join Exhale as members of our Board of Directors.

About Exhale:

Exhale is an award-winning, national organization whose mission is to create a social climate where each person’s unique experience with abortion is respected, supported and free from stigma. Through leadership development, communications, and direct services, Exhale’s pro-voice movement is transforming public dialogue about abortion. Exhale has a thriving organizational culture that emphasizes mission, innovation and excellence.

About Exhale’ s Board of Directors:

Exhale’s Board Members are leaders whose volunteer service to Exhale is critical to growing and engaging more people and communities in the Pro-Voice Movement. We seek individuals to join the Exhale Board who have a strong personal commitment to our Pro-Voice mission; deep leadership experience; and powerful relationship-building and network-building practices.

Exhale’s Board is committed to grassroots, social change strategies; loves trying new things and taking calculated risks; and are achievement-oriented. Our board members are known in their personal and professional networks as early adopters of technological innovations; creative thinkers; diligent about follow-through; and as people who make things happen for the causes they care about.  We are looking for Board candidates who share these commitments, experience and professional practices.

Board Member Role and Responsibilities Include: (more…)

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On Friday, June 17th, Exhale Executive Director Aspen Baker participated in a panel presentation at Netroots Nation entitled “FTW: Social Networks, Down & Dirty for Change.” Assembled by 16 & Loved architect Deanna Zandt, the panel also included Cheryl Contee from Fission Strategy, Anita Jackson from Moms Rising, and Rachel LaBruyere from Mobile Commons and explored case studied of social media successes. Aspen Baker presented the 16 & Loved campaign to a standing-room only crowd, exploring campaign goals, media reaction, and lessons learned. You can watch the whole panel discussion below [a new browser window will open]:

(more…)

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Leah Uberseder brings to Exhale more than ten years experience in peace-building, community health education and grassroots fundraising. A lifelong Quaker and graduate of Earlham College’s Peace & Global Studies program, Leah’s work at Exhale is informed by her experiences at the intersection of personal identity and social conflict. From human rights reporting in Israel and Palestine to teaching sexuality education and HIV prevention to teenagers, Leah’s work focuses on the real, personal stories that exist in the middle of highly politicized issues. Leah is an experienced facilitator, and enjoys finding creative ways to instill sustainable fundraising values and practices into non-profit organizations.

Leah has incredible experiences navigating polarized conflicts through a pro-voice approach.   In her former role as a sexuality education teacher with youth in western Massachusetts, Leah understands what it means to put a woman’s story front and center.  She describes her experiences here:

For the 3 & 1/2 years I spent teaching sex education to teens, I kept an unusual photocopy taped to the wall near my desk. Like most state-funded programs, mine was required to measure our success by tracking changes in our groups’ attitudes through anonymous pre- and post-program testing. Occasionally someone would eschew the multiple choices for a write-in answer, and it was one of these that I preserved. “Indicate the likelihood you will engage in sexual activity within the next six months” was followed by selections ranging from “very likely” to “not at all likely.” This particular test taker had circled “not at all likely,” then crossed it out, defiantly writing instead: “But really, I don’t know. Stuff happens.”

As I framed my work as a sex educator in the context of my peace studies degree, I worked to separate my daily facilitation from the firestorm of controversy that typifies sex ed. Though deeply aware of the politics-infused stage on which I stood, I saw my role as imparting knowledge that spoke to the real circumstances of young peoples’ lives and helped them safely make choices that honored their own values.

I kept that post-test page to remind me of the reality, not the ideological struggle, of sex education. That heavily polarized debate dissipated each time I sat across from a young woman in my office asking me how to get a pregnancy test. There was no room in those conversations for abstract caricatures—only for her voice, her fears, and her needs, as well as my desire to work toward a world that affirmed her story.

In my experience, the Pro-Voice culture that Exhale is pioneering puts this young woman front and center and constructs its narrative with her. A Pro-Voice culture means that there is no single, shiny marketable story that demonstrates the “proper” circumstances of reproductive choice. Rather, every story is validated, and we work together to find and fund innovative platforms that ensure these stories are heard in ways that are non-exploitative, respectful of privacy, and provide opportunities for meaningful connections and dialogue. For young women like those I’ve known, so similar to Markai, Natalia and Katie in “No Easy Decision,” empathy for their experiences and trust in their decisions were their most visceral needs on the path to healing.

I come to Exhale from a diverse career in social justice. I am a fundraiser, a peace activist, a storyteller, a person of faith, a woman and a sex educator. And I had an abortion too. Of all the experiences that make up who I am, one of the most influential to me is the one I speak about the least. I’m certainly not the first person to wake up and discover my very identity has become politicized, but I work for a culture in which the safe spaces for all of us to share our truths with dignity and without judgment are ever-expanding. And I’m incredibly honored to continue these efforts alongside the Exhale community.

In her role as National Engagement Coordinator, Leah will be working with pro-voice advocates and donors from within Exhale and across the country, leveraging each person’s individual talents and strengths towards growing the pro-voice movement.

Welcome Leah!

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