Heather L. Barmore
No Pasa Nada Heather Barmore Elsewhere About
Heather L. Barmore
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Heather Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices


    Your Big, Fat Guide to The 2014 Midterm Elections 

    Last month I sat with a friend who lamented on the current state of American politics. I emphatically agreed and mentioned the upcoming midterm election to which she replied that she knew nothing of these elections and that sound you just heard is that of my heart breaking as I re-tell this tale. Though it’s high time that I am honest with myself and say that no one gives a damn about these elections. In fact Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post just wrote a piece titled: “The election is in 29 days. No one cares.” I, of course, care as do the infamous Beltway insiders and Nancy Pelosi really REALLY cares but on the whole the average American is more concerned about Ebola than they are about the direction of this country and it makes me a little sad. Anyway, during our lunch I told this friend that I would whip up a little something regarding the midterm elections. Something I have been meaning to do for weeks but have I mentioned that I’m in Spain? Because I AM IN SPAIN. I cannot say that enough.

    Here goes:

    WHO: The entire House of Representatives and one third of the Senate are being elected this coming November in addition to 37 Governors (you can see all states with gubernatorial races here). The American public, i.e. YOU. Yes, you, get to decide. Please vote. Nothing annoys me more than people who complain about politics and then refuse to vote because it takes up time or it’s boring or they have no idea what’s going on. Please don't be that person.




    WHERE: The League of Women Voters has vote411.org where you put in your address and the site tells you the last date to register to vote in your state, the last day to vote via absentee ballot and the location of your polling place. You don’t have to sign up or give a blood oath. It’s all very easy which is exactly how democracy should be.

    WHEN: Tuesday, November 4th. I’ve been counting down the days for months but I’m a dork. Mark it down.

    WHY: Because it’s important? Because we want to avoid another government shutdown? Because you want your voice heard? Because it is next to impossible for Congress to get anything done as is and perhaps a shake-up is in order? Because we have this amazing power to be a part of our national political system, one that others died for and so we should use it? I don’t know what issues are important to you and that is something that you will have to decide for yourself what I can tell you is where to you can learn about what matters to you, your family and your community.

    HOW: Not how to vote but how to find out about the candidates, who is running, who your member of congress is and more on the issues that might be of importance to you.

    You can find your member of the House of Representatives here and your Senator here.

    You can find who is on the ballot, whether or not you live in an area with a highly competitive race and follow  some excellent coverage.

    Here is The Skimm's local guide to the 2014 Midterm Elections.

    Is your elected representative helpful when it comes to reproductive choice?

    How about on education issues?

    Is climate change important?

    Or maybe work/life policy?

    Or maybe you like the second amendment?

    Whatever speaks to you, whatever you think needs fixing in this country, whatever you want to see changed or improved, going forward is all up to you. At the risk of sounding like a broken record just vote. VOTE. VOTE.


    Dispatch from Madrid: I

    "Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe."  ~Anatole France

    In an unexpected turn of events which I shall go into with my trademark long-windedness at a later date; I am in Madrid. As in Spain. As in I up and flew across the Atlantic and have been here for one week already with two more semanas to go. I have never known this type of freedom and it’s exhilarating. I’ve been sharing photos each day on Instagram and here is a little something I penned while sitting down to some patatas braves and a glass of Rioja. The latter is cheaper than water. These are my people:

    October 6, 2014: What I find most alarming right now is that while I love - I mean LOVE - being alone, I would rather have someone else here in Madrid with me. I think that Heather and I could have a good time for like five days. Which, I think, is a ringing endorsement of how I feel about her as a person. It’s weird to be in a city such as this where togetherness seems to be paramount. Everywhere I see large groups of friend, women and men walking arm-in-arm down the street. It’s actually the type of intimacy I enjoy if only for a few days a month. And then there is me. Alone. Don’t get me wrong, I am enjoying time here immensely but I want to share at least a few bits of this experience with another.



    When Women Count


    In the discussion surrounding privilege I often forget to take stock in my own. That I was born and raised in a family that took education seriously. To have parents who, when I lament on whether or not marriage and/or children will ever happen for me, they remind me that progeny are not the be all, end all of my future. A wedding does not constitute success for them and that happiness and passions are paramount. I forget that I have been remarkably fortunate to have the things I have and a life that will be take me to Europe in a few short days simply for the joy of travel and a thirst for adventure. I was the person who attended her first choice, high priced private university and was sent away with glee by my parents simply because I wanted for nothing more. These are the things I forget when I complain about shortcomings and the ebbs and flows of life.

    While attending the Social Good Summit this past weekend in New York City someone asked why I was there. It was my second time at the summit and my fourth year of enjoying United Nations Week. A time when people from around the world come together to discuss making this planet of ours even better. During previous events I have become so wrapped up in all that the week and summit covers from climate change to poverty to clean water and available electricity. So much so that I find myself overwhelmed instead of able to realize my part in the shape of things to come. So when I was asked why I attended this year I knew, for once, just the reason: women and girls.

    As a black woman living in America there are no shortage of tales to tell about the ignorance of others and micro-aggressions towards me. That said, to sit in the front rows of an auditorium listening to women emphasize the need to rethink how we engage with communities around the globe in order to count women? Well, let’s just say I was quick to check my own privilege.

    I went through and looked at notes I had scribbled down in handwriting that proved that I wanted to make sure I remembered everything hence rampant use of shorthand. A few notes:

    - “A girl has the same value as a boy”
    - We need to rethink how we engage with countries and how we engage with communities to achieve sustainability that directly impacts young girls
    - “Marriage is seen as protecting a child (a girl) but it turns into oppression by forcing children into marriage. These institutions have to change”
    - Ignoring and discounting girls as more than just mothers is rooted in tradition. “Traditions are man made so how do we dismantle this man made device”
    - By 2030 we need to make measurable progress on raising the value of girls and women
    - Tell the stories of women and girls. In storytelling a girl does not exist in a vacuum. If we tell stories of ordinary girls overcoming obstacles this will make others fee the need to work towards action

    It was one of those moments of listening where I remembered my blissful ignorance. Of course I am all for advocating for women and girls but what is needed far more than advocacy is ensuring that they are counted. Social Good Summit tends to focus on how how technology and social media are used to make an impact in developing countries and with the Millennium Development Goals. In reality many of the technological analytics and the proof of impact from the NGO world isn’t available for girls or there needs to be an improvement in that arena. Quite simply around the world girls are forgotten and simply used for procreation or as currency. Meanwhile I scroll through Facebook and jump on the “why aren’t there more women on the stage at X tech conference?” bandwagon. While America isn’t perfect when it comes to gender equality we still have the luxury of taking to Twitter or even the ballot box - often without question - to express our displeasure. The women of America are counted.

    I wish I could end this on some fabulous suggestion of how to impact the future of women and girls. As a person who craves good narrative and believes that telling the stories of ourselves and others leads to commonality, well, I now have a renewed focus on my own part to play which is quite simply to tell the tales of the women I meet. I return to this space more thoughtful which isn’t very helpful to the masses but, for me, it’s a start and exactly what I needed from the weekend. I simply want to help.

    P.S. Check out this post on what Buzzfeed writer, Morgan Shanahan, got out of the Social Good Summit.

    P.P.S. If you missed Emma Watson's speech on HeForShe check that out as well. We need more allies in this world (via Vox)

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