Members of the Lakeland Women’s Collective and women from the community gathered together at The Poor Porker on Saturday, Jan. 19, to celebrate the kick-off of the 2019 Women’s March in Washington D.C.
The purpose of the meet-up was to give Lakeland women the platform to gather and discuss issues in the community and the nation and to empower each other through personal stories. They discussed issues ranging from female business owners, to the struggle of local artists, to the government shutdown.
“Showing support for the women in Lakeland, showing support for feminism and the growing presence of feminism in Lakeland, that’s really important to me,” attendee and Women’s Collective member Alison Foley-Rothrock said. “As much as I’d love to be in Washington D.C. right now marching with the thousands that’s just not realistic.”
Lakeland Women’s Collective founder Ileah Green thinks events like the meet-up are important because it allows for a physical social network for women.
“A lot of women seem to be searching for meaningful connections with other women (in Lakeland),” Green said. “The Women Collective is bridging that gap.”
The event was very short notice, which allowed for loose planning and a laid back atmosphere. The women sat in a circle and shared meaningful conversation about what was concerning them.
Green said she founded the Women’s Collective because she had been trying to find a way to empower women and push policies. She also pointed to the fact that hate is very active now, and being in a group of women that wants to see you succeed creates an infectious energy.
The Women’s Collective feels that gathering together as a group, whether it be during a women’s march or a small, community gathering helps to bring a voice to people’s issues or concerns.
Foley-Rothrock remarked that it was “nice to know that you’re not alone and you’re not the only feminist in Lakeland.”
The Women’s Collective and The Poor Porker both align with the thought that feminism is dimensional and that it’s concerned with a multitude of issues. Green said that feminism often gets a bad rap, but they’re working to rebrand the word.
The mission of the Women’s March is to “harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change,” according to their website.
The Women’s Collective is trying to spread the same ideals and it’s important to them to support people despite their differences.
“We want to support members despite their ideas, not tell them they’re wrong, not berate them,” Green said. “We can believe different things and still want equality for everyone.”
Groups like the Women’s Collective and businesses like The Poor Porker provide a place for the community to come together and be part of a bigger national movement.
The next event that the Women’s Collective will be hosting is on Feb. 2. It will be the second meeting of the State of Women series where representatives from the community will talk about the needs of black women in the community.